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Female-specific health problems in mental patients

Akdeniz, Fisun

Current Opinion in Psychiatry: July 2010 - Volume 23 - Issue 4 - p 378–382
doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e32833ae437
Medical comorbidity: Edited by Stefan Leucht and Kostas Fountoulakis

Purpose of review Significant sex differences have been described for mental disorders in terms of prevalence, symptom presentation and prescription of psychotropic medication. Most of the published studies and reviews emphasize the impact of female-specific reproductive events on the course of the mental illness or sex difference of the adverse effects of psychotropic medication or the concerns about treatment of female patients during the perinatal period. Different from other reviews, we will summarize the effects of current mental disorder/psychotropic medication on the female-specific reproduction-related events (such as menstrual regularity, pregnancy, postpartum period and menopause).

Recent findings A number of recent studies have highlighted the adverse effects of psychotropic agents on the female reproductive system, especially on the regularity of the menstrual cycle or on the female gonadal hormones. Without any medication, disturbances of the female gonadal system are observed especially among severely mentally ill female patients. In the studies, the prevalence of female-specific gonadal abnormalities and their mechanism of action, prevention and recommendations are given in detail.

Summary The field of reproductive psychiatry is rapidly evolving. There is increasing evidence that clinicians should be aware of female medical health while treating severely mentally ill female patients. Analyzing the present data will further advance our understanding of treatment safety and impact of untreated mental illness in women.

Affective Disorders Unit, Department of Psychiatry, Ege University, School of Medicine, Izmir, Turkey

Correspondence to Fisun Akdeniz, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Affective Disorders Unit, Department of Psychiatry, Ege University, School of Medicine, Izmir 35100, Turkey Tel: +90 232 3403401; e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.