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Depression is a disorder that is quite prevalent in certain populations around the globe. Current estimates suggest that 17 percent of Americans are currently suffering from major depression and in most cases, anti-depressants will be prescribed [1]. These medications are very effective at improving the mood of patients in a depressed state but they also come with a number of side effects that could be potentially significant depending on your age. 

Some of the most common side effects of anti-depressant medication are the sexual dysfunction that normally ensues following ingestion of this medication. Serotonin levels are immensely altered due to these medications and patients may not have the same urge to partake in sexual activity due to this.Elderly men who utilize any type of anti-depressant from this category are at risk for developing erectile dysfunction or exacerbating any dysfunction that they already have because of it. 

Women will also notice significant changes when they begin anti-depressant medication. Not only will they experience a decreased desire to have sex but they will also notice changes in their menstrual cycle as a direct result of this medication. In one investigation, the effects of 20 milligrams and 60 milligrams of Prozac (fluoxetine) on the length of a menstrual cycle was measured in women suffering from depression. In this investigation, 11 out of 62 women (18 percent) of women taking 60 milligrams of Prozac daily noticed an increased length in their period cycle. In the group receiving only 20 milligrams of Prozac daily, 7 out of 70 (10 percent) of women noticed increased menstrual lengths. This was true for only 1 patient out of 70 in the control group. 

This study went a step further to determine if these changes were only observed in the first month that an anti-depressant was started or if it continued as the patient stayed on the medication. When looking at these same patients after a 3 month period, it was determined that 15 percent of patients receiving 60 milligrams daily and 6 percent of women taking only 20 milligrams of anti-depressant medication had abnormal menstrual cycles in at least 2 out of the 3 months of therapy. In the control group, only 3 percent of patients had abnormal menstrual cycles during this same period. 

Based on this investigation, it should be obvious that there is some type of physiological change that anti-depressants cause that can alter your menstrual cycle. Patients already in a depressed state may notice menstrual cycle changes but when patients are prescribed high doses of Prozac, significant changes to your menstrual cycle will be observed. Even low to moderate doses of fluoxetine can lead to increased changes in your cycle length. [2]

Thankfully, a number of alternative medications are available on the market that do not have the same sexual dysfunction side effects that are observed in anti-depressants. Medications like bupriopoin are a "gold-standard" alternative for women who are at a reproductive age and are still hoping to conceive children. Prozac is the drug of choice for women who are no longer interested in having children or who are passed reproductive age. 

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