Zoloft is a brand name for the antidepressant drug sertraline. It belongs to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) category of drugs. It works by attempting to balance chemicals in the brain that may cause depression and other mental disorders if they are out of balance. Zoloft is available by prescription only for the treatment of depression, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and other conditions. Like most prescription medications, Zoloft may have side effects that can be potentially serious, particularly to unborn children during their third trimester.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is not the same thing as Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), although some may consider it to be an extreme form of that condition. PMDD is identified by severe physical and emotional issues that are closely associated with the menstrual cycle. Zoloft is approved for the treatment of PMDD. Because there may be potentially serious consequences to unborn children, sexually active women taking Zoloft should consult their physician about using some form of birth control while taking Zoloft. If a pregnancy should occur while the patient is taking Zoloft, she should consult her physician about weaning off the drug before entering the third trimester.
Studies in animals indicate an increased incidence of still births when sertraline was administered during the final trimester of pregnancy. When the medication continued through lactation, body weight increases slowed and infant deaths increased. While the clinical significance of these studies is not yet known, and there have been no controlled studies of the effects of Zoloft in pregnant women, it is recommended that this drug only be prescribed to women who are pregnant or may become pregnant when the potential benefit to the mother outweighs the potential risk to the unborn child. Women who are taking Zoloft should consult their physician about using birth control.
Affects on the Reproductive System
Some women have reported infrequent reproductive system side effects after taking Zoloft. These side effects include menstrual disorders, severe pain during menstruation, intermenstrual bleeding, vaginal hemorrhage, missed periods or vagina discharge. In rare cases, the drug was reported to cause breast pain or enlargement, abnormally heavy periods, vaginitis and other complications. Although Zoloft may cause a decrease in libido, it has not been shown to decrease fertility so appropriate birth control measures should be taken when using Zoloft.
Sexual Side Effects
While changes in sexual conduct may be attributed to certain psychiatric disorders, they may also flow from the use of certain antidepressant medications including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Zoloft. Because patients may be reluctant to discuss such private behavior it is believed the actually incidence of sexual side effects such as impotence, lack of sexual desire, inability to achieve orgasm and other issues may be under reported.
Unborn children who are exposed to SSRIs during the third trimester of gestation have been reported to develop severe complications which have required hospitalization and the use of feeding tubes and respiratory assistance. Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should consult with their physician to insure they are fully apprised of the risks prior to starting treatment with Zoloft. Sexually active women are encouraged to use some effective means of birth control while taking Zoloft.