Depression Medication and Male Fertility

Some mental health medication could be affecting your fertility and sperm production.

03722rSome mental health medication could be affecting your fertility and sperm production.

Taking medication for mental health isn’t something to be ashamed of. Actually, it is something you should feel content and indifferent about. Hell, why should you hate that little pill? From my own personal experience, in college when I was suffering from major depression I tried about four different anti-depressants medications. The side effects of the first three that I tried, let’s just say made me feel less human; I was no longer myself. The side effects were terrible, from sleeping more and eating less to snapping at anyone for just saying “hi” and having a seemingly nonexistent sex drive (sorry mom and dad). I had to keep switching from medication to medication until my doctor and I found the right one for me.

Here at DCYBs, a site about male fertility health, why the hell are we even bringing up depressing crap? Well, these mental health medicines can have the side effects that impact male fertility. But please keep in mind to not take this article as gospel. I’m not a doctor nor any sort of medical physician, I’m just a regular person surrounded with my own mental illness who took time to research this topic. If anything, I hope by reading this and doing your own research you too feel more empowered with your health. So, if you find anything here about medication you are taking and have a concern, then this should motivate you to go to your doctor and ask questions. Now that we have that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get down to business about your medication and fertility.

My inspiration for researching lithium came about as I was using the app and going through the test to check my own fertility. (FYI, I’m a female, but I’m new to DCYB and wanted to see what things I do that may affect my sperm if I was a male.) While answering questions to determine my own fertility health, one set of questions was about what medication I was currently taking and one that looked familiar to me was lithium. This was a medication that I believed I taken before, and the bottom of the app said these medications can affect your fertility. “Uh oh” I thought, that might not be good so I figured I need to do more research for myself.

First, what is lithium? Lithium is a chemical element, that was once found in the 7-Up until 1948. The name comes from the term lithos, the Greek word for “stone”, because lithium is present in many types of rocks. Bet you didn’t think you’d be learning about balls and rocks all at once, huh? Lithium is used as a treatment for bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive disorder, as well as major depression, and is prescribed by a doctor. Lithium is usually sold under brand names: Lithobid, Lithonate, Cibalith-S, etc.

So the question now is “Does lithium affect male fertility?” The answer is that it very well could. For example, there is a 1989 study in which scientists discovered that the lithium caused a complete cessation of flagellar movement. Basically saying lithium stopped the movement of the sperm’s tail, or the flagellar movement, because lithium has a natural immobilization effect. The reasoning for the stoppage of the cells is the concentration of lithium present in semen is double that than in the blood. The causation of this may be because the blood filters out more than semen does, therefore lithium may be filtered out in the blood more than semen, but of course that is simply logical deduction on my part.

But you may be skeptical and think that study was too long ago and the data might not be as reliable in today’s age. No worries, I got you covered. In a 2013 study, scientists took adult male rats and divided them into three experimental groups and one control group. Each group were given different doses of lithium:10, 20 and 30 mg/kg a day. The final results were that the experimental groups’ sperm cells were reduced by motility/movement, morphology (cell appearance), and total sperm count.

But even with these studies, if you were to Google (or Bing; live your life the way you want) “Does lithium affect male fertility?”, you will find message boards, websites, etc. with different outcomes. Some say yes, others say no, it is a little controversial, but studies suggest that lithium may have an effect on sperm. Of course, everyone’s body reacts differently, and as I said above talk to your doctor if you are concerned about medication you are taking. Remember it is your body, it is your mind. You have the right to be happy, even if your happiness is based on your balls.

Until next time friends.


Raoof, N T, R M Pearson, and P Turner. “Lithium Inhibits Human Sperm Motility in Vitro.” British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 28.6 (1989): 715–717. Print.

Toghyani, Shima et al. “Lithium Carbonate Inducing Disorders in Three Parameters of Rat Sperm.” Advanced Biomedical Research 2 (2013): 55. PMC. Web. 8 Nov. 2016.