If you have — or love someone who has — a mental health diagnosis, you know how critically important it is that it be treated just as seriously as a physical one. For women in their childbearing years, the issue of medication is particularly important, and those who are hoping to achieve pregnancy may have reservations about the risks. If you're asking, "Can I take anxiety medications while trying to conceive?" you're not alone. Women everywhere want and need to know.
While the more obvious question might seem to be whether a woman should continue anxiety medication once she gets pregnant, the truth is, the presence of said medication might actually affect her odds of conceiving in the first place. In an interview with Parents magazine, Dr. Alan Copperman, director of reproductive endocrinology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, said, "Because a woman's menstrual cycle is tightly controlled by the interaction between the brain, ovaries, and uterus, any health problem or medication that disrupts this communication could adversely affect ovulation and make it challenging for women to achieve a pregnancy."
The Parents article explained that any medication may affect a woman's fertility by either altering ovulation, or altering endometrial or uterine receptiveness to a fertilized egg. However, it is important to remember the key word here is "may". Although there does appear to be a connection between anxiety/depression and infertility, correlation does not necessarily equal causation. There is no cut-and-dry answer.
Many women with milder cases of mental illness may choose to go off medication while they're actively hoping for a baby. But for many people, living day to day without anxiety medications is simply not a realistic possibility, much less the healthiest choice for their family. Some women have come to the conclusion that the lack of research-backed evidence of risk is validation that the safest course of action for them is to continue anxiety medication while trying to conceive. Once they become pregnant, they are willing to re-evaluate.
To decide what's right for you, talk to your healthcare provider honestly about your particular situation and concerns. Above all, remember that it's impossible to be the mother you want to be if your own mental health needs aren't being met.