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.


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.


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can impair semen quality and damage sperm DNA integrity. Further studies are needed to replicate our findings.


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Urology and Nephrology Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran