LEXAPRO FAQS: For Women Taking Lexapro

Lexapro women: Lexapro and your period or ability to get pregnant. Plus taking Lexapro during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Below are the answers to frequently asked questions about the SSRI antidepressant LEXAPRO (escitalopram oxalate). The answers are provided by HealthyPlace.com Medical Director, Harry Croft, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist.

As you are reading these answers, please remember these are "general answers" and not meant to apply to your specific situation or condition. Keep in mind that editorial content is never a substitute for personal advice from your health care professional.

Q: Are there any women-specific issues related to LEXAPRO? Can LEXAPRO affect your period or ability to get pregnant? Can you take LEXAPRO during pregnancy without negative impact on the fetus? LEXAPRO and breastfeeding - is it safe? Will it interfere with my birth control pills?

A: Depression, as an illness, can affect a woman's menstrual cycle and period. Antidepressants as a group do not seem to have any universal effect on women's menstrual cycles, but in some women there may be changes either in the cycle itself, or in the menstrual period. This appears to be a specific effect for that woman if it occurs, and not a general effect of the medication in a group of women.

I am unaware of any study showing that antidepressants as a group cause any difficulty in conceiving a pregnancy, though there may be individual effects in this regard.

The best-studied SSRIs in pregnancy are Prozac® (fluoxetine) and Zoloft® (sertraline), both of which appear to be safe in both pregnancy and breastfeeding. Currently there are no adequate and well-controlled studies of LEXAPRO in pregnant women; therefore, LEXAPRO (escitalopram) should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit to the woman justifies the potential risk to the fetus. All SSRIs are generally considered to be safe in animals except at very high doses, but the FDA warns that although there appear to be no general problems, it cannot be said with certainty that difficulties might not arise in pregnancy.

There are several studies that show that untreated depression during pregnancy is more likely to result in pregnancy problems. Taking LEXAPRO (or any antidepressant) during pregnancy is an example of the necessity for careful and informed discussion between a woman and her physician with the resulting decision being one in which risks vs benefits of medication (or no treatment at all) be carefully and fully evaluated.

As for breastfeeding, LEXAPRO, like many other drugs, is excreted in human breast milk. Side effects from LEXAPRO in a nursing baby are generally rare. If they do occur, side effects may include sleepiness, decreased feeding, and potential weight loss. Again, this is something a woman should discuss in detail with her physician.

On the subject of LEXAPRO having an impact on the effectiveness of birth control pills, I have not heard of any problems in that regard.

Prozac is a registered trademark of Eli Lilly and Company.
Zoloft is a registered trademark of Pfizer Inc.

next: NIMH: Psychotherapy and Antidepressant Medications Work Best

Last Updated: 14 January 2014

Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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