New research suggests that a widely used antidepressant causes DNA damage in sperm that may impair fertility.
Peter Schlegel, of the Cornell Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues gave 35 healthy men the antidepressant paroxetine (sold as Seroxat or Paxil) for five weeks. The men provided sperm samples before and during paroxetine treatment.
On first examination, the men's sperm seemed healthy â€“ the number of sperm present in each sample, their shape, and their motility, were all normal. However, when the researchers looked at DNA fragmentation in the sperm they found that the number of sperm exhibiting DNA damage in each sample more than doubled from 13.8% before treatment to 30.3% during treatment with the drug.
The researchers are, at present, uncertain as to whether or not this would cause fertility problems, however similar levels of sperm DNA damage have been reported to cause problems with embryo viability.
Antidepressants may harm male fertility. New Scientist. 2008; 24th September: 11.
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