Does Zoloft Affect Menstrual Periods?

In this blog, we will take a close look at the antidepressant Zoloft, also known as Sertraline, and its potential impact on the menstrual cycle. We will provide an insight into the medical aspects of Zoloft, its uses, and how it might affect hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle.
Greta Daniskova

Greta Daniskova

Greta is a BSc Biomedical Science student at the University of Westminster, London.

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What is Zoloft?

Zoloft is a brand name for prescription medication sold under the generic name Sertraline. Zoloft is an oral tablet and a typically prescribed medication for depression, panic, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Zoloft is classified as a specific type of antidepressant called a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) [1, 2, 3, 4]. The active substance contained in Zoloft is the ingredient Sertraline. Sertraline is what causes Zoloft to act as an antidepressant [2, 4].

What does Zoloft do?

Zoloft is prescribed for a long list of mental health problems, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), major depressive disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. It’s often prescribed alone or with other drugs and therapies [1].

Zoloft is also prescribed for children aged 6–17 years to treat OCD [4]. The drug’s effects are achieved by increasing the level of serotonin – a neurotransmitter distributed throughout the brain that maintains stability and reduces the symptoms of OCD and depression [5].

What is the Menstrual Cycle?

The Menstrual Cycle is the normal monthly cycle in women with a uterus and ovaries. It is a complex feedback system of hormones, primarily including estrogen and progesterone, preparing someone for pregnancy every month. The cycle lasts approximately 28 days, and heavy bleeding typically lasts 4-5 days [6].

Every month, the uterus thickens its lining so that, if fertilization happens, it will be ready to care for a fertilized egg. At the same time, one of the ovaries creates an egg (which is released – or ovulates – from its follicle). When this does not result in either a pregnancy or a miscarriage, the levels of estrogen and progesterone drop, the thickening is no longer needed, and the thick lining and some blood are shed, leaving what’s medically known as a menstrual flow but also as a period [7, 6].

What Causes the Menstrual Cycle?

Hormonal changes dominate the cycle. Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LH-RH) is produced in the neurons of the brain in a pulsatile manner at set times. This release causes the secretion of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) by the pituitary gland then induces the ovarian synthesis of estradiol (a form of the estrogen family). FSH allows it to activate LH [8].

Rising estrogen levels thicken the uterine lining (endometrium), in case an egg is fertilized. If the egg is not fertilized, the lining is shed along with estrogen and progesterone in the second half of the cycle, resulting in menstruation [7, 6].

A peak LH concentration induces ovulation, the release of an egg from the ovaries, but this process is also triggered by appropriate progesterone levels: progesterone produced after ovulation by a temporary endocrine structure (the corpus luteum of the ovaries) acts through negative feedback mechanisms at the hypothalamic level and helps to regulate the cycle [8].

Does Zoloft affect the Menstrual Cycle?

Zoloft, also known as sertraline, is part of the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that are widely used to treat depression, anxiety and other conditions, such as a disorder called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Zoloft may affect the menstrual cycle in some women, though the evidence is mixed. Zoloft seems to affect menstrual cycling around PMDD.

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Greta Daniskova

Greta Daniskova

Greta is a 2nd-year student currently pursuing her Bachelor's Degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Westminster in London. Currently, in her second year of undergraduate studies, she exhibits a keen interest in the dynamic field of healthcare. With a focus on understanding the intricacies of human biology and disease mechanisms, Greta is driven by a desire to contribute to advancements in medical research and patient care.