Purpose: Semen parameters and sperm DNA were evaluated in patients receiving selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
Materials and methods: Semen samples were obtained from 74 fertile, depressed men treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (group 1) and 44 healthy fertile volunteers who served as a control (group 2). Two semen analyses and physical examinations were completed in all participants. Sperm chromatin structure assay was used to detect sperm DNA fragmentation.
Results: The mean +/- SE total sperm count in patients receiving selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and in normal subjects was 61.2 +/- 11.4 million and 186.2 +/- 31.4 million, respectively (p = 0.001). Patients in group 1 had a mean motility of 48.2% +/- 4.6%, which was significantly lower than the mean of 66.2% +/- 4.4% in normal controls (p = 0.01). Normal sperm morphology was detected in 14 patients (18.9%) and 23 controls (52.3%) (p = 0.001). Patients treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors had a mean of 8.1% +/- 5.4% normal forms per ejaculate. A significant increase in the amount of denatured single strand DNA in total cellular DNA was found in patients treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors compared with that in controls (43.2% +/- 11.4% vs 21.4% +/- 10.6%, p = 0.01). Each semen analysis parameter significantly correlated with treatment duration.
Conclusions: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can impair semen quality and damage sperm DNA integrity. Further studies are needed to replicate our findings.