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How Common is the Use of Antidepressants While Undergoing IVF?

A.D. Domar, V.A. Moragianni, D.A. Ryley, A.C. Urato

July 26, 2017
Emma Holt

It’s no secret that IVF can be challenging, scary and depressing, even if you do end up giving birth to a beautiful baby at the end of it. Many women feel depressed while going through the entire process of injections, the two-week wait period, and not to mention the hefty price tag that comes with it. The feeling of isolation isn’t farfetched either if you’re the only one in your family or friend group undergoing IVF for the first time and therefore, the only one who truly understanding what it’s like. Since antidepressant use is so prevalent during this time, researchers surveyed women at Boston IVF in October 2012 to assess just how many women use it.

Who was surveyed?

Any and all women receiving treatment at Boston IVF completed an online questionnaire as part of the electronic medical record eIVF. A total of 1,945 women were included in the study. The researchers collected data on other medication used by these women as well, not just antidepressants. Use of at least on antidepressant medication was evaluated in women undergoing IVF at that time.

What the survey concluded

A total of 216 or 11.1% of women responded that they were taking an antidepressant. The antidepressant use breaks down as follows: 8.74% of women used selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, 0.8% took selective and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, and 1.6% took Bupropion. Get this, only 3% of these patients admitted to the anesthesiologist that they were using antidepressants. To find this out, a random subset of 150 patient charts were cross checked with the anesthesia records at the time of egg retrieval to confirm that patient report on eIVF matched the disclosure to the anesthesiologist.

This study shows that antidepressant use is far higher than what has been previously reported in the past. Other studies indicated that 4% of IVF patients were taking an antidepressant. It’s important to note, however, that the electronic completion of this survey versus face to face questioning may impact the accuracy of the results. This is particularly worrying because evidence shows that SSRI use poses significant risks to the pregnancy as well as the health of the offspring both short term and long term. Symptoms of depression are more commonly reported in infertile women rather than infertile, and this study indicates that more than one in ten IVF patients turn to medications to treat their depression. The authors of this study suggest the use of other “modalities” to treat depressive symptoms. 


"The prevalence of antidepressant use by women undergoing IVF"

Fertility and Sterility - September 2012, Volume 98, Issue 3, Supplement, Page S45


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