Date: June 2022, Version 2.1

What is it?

Venlafaxine (Alventa®, Depefax®, Efexor®, Majoven®, Politid®, Sunveniz®, Venaxx®, Vencarm®, Venladex®, Venlalic®, Vensir®, Venzip®, ViePax®) is used to treat depression, anxiety, and panic disorder.


What are the benefits of taking venlafaxine?

Venlafaxine can prevent or reduce the unpleasant symptoms associated with some mental health conditions. This is important for good quality of life, and to ensure that a pregnant woman remains well in preparation for looking after her baby.


Are there any risks of taking venlafaxine in pregnancy?

Most studies of pregnant women taking venlafaxine do not raise concern that it causes birth defects, stillbirth, preterm delivery, or low infant birth weight. However, for some pregnancy outcomes, only small numbers of women have been studied and ongoing research is ideally required. Studies investigating whether miscarriage may be more common following venlafaxine use have produced mixed findings, although the most reliable of these studies shows no increased chance of miscarriage.

Venlafaxine affects the central nervous system and can potentially cause short-term withdrawal symptoms in the newborn baby if taken in the weeks before delivery. Observation of your baby after birth may therefore be advised.

Medicines that work in a similar way to venlafaxine have been linked in rare cases to a lung problem in newborn babies called persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). There is no good information on whether venlafaxine use around the time of delivery increases the chance of PPHN. As a precaution, your baby will be checked for breathing problems by a midwife or paediatrician.

There is no evidence that use of venlafaxine in pregnancy directly affects a child’s intelligence or behaviour. While this is reassuring, more studies are needed that follow children up to school age.


Are there any alternatives to taking venlafaxine?

Possibly. Other medicines can be used to treat depression, anxiety, and panic disorder. Some mental health conditions can also be treated with talking therapies instead of medicines. However, this does not work for everyone and some people may prefer to take a medicine. If a woman’s condition is well-controlled with venlafaxine, it may be best to stay on it rather than try something new and risk a relapse.

Ideally, women planning a pregnancy should speak to their GP or specialist to determine whether venlafaxine is still the best option for them. Similarly, women who have an unplanned pregnancy while taking venlafaxine should be reviewed at the earliest opportunity by their GP or specialist.

No treatment

What if I prefer not to take medicines during pregnancy?

It is very important that mental health conditions are appropriately treated to ensure your wellbeing during pregnancy and while looking after your baby. Discontinuing venlafaxine can put you at risk of relapse and stopping abruptly can cause you to experience withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor will only prescribe medicines when absolutely necessary and will be happy to talk to you about any concerns that you might have.

Please do not stop taking venlafaxine without first speaking to your GP or specialist.

Will my baby need extra monitoring?

All pregnant women in the UK should be offered a detailed anomaly scan at around 20 weeks of pregnancy as part of their routine antenatal care. No extra monitoring for major birth defects is required following venlafaxine use in pregnancy.

Are there any risks to my baby if the father has taken venlafaxine?

We would not expect any increased risk to your baby if the father takes venlafaxine.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

If you have any questions regarding the information in this leaflet please discuss them with your health care provider. They can access more detailed medical and scientific information from

How can I help to improve drug safety information for pregnant women in the future?

Our online reporting system (MyBump Portal) allows women who are currently pregnant to create a secure record of their pregnancy, collected through a series of questionnaires. You will be asked to enter information about your health, whether or not you take any medicines, your pregnancy outcome and your child's development. You can update your details at any time during pregnancy or afterwards. This information will help us better understand how medicines affect the health of pregnant women and their babies. Please visit the MyBump Portal to register.

General information
Sadly, miscarriage and birth defects can occur in any pregnancy.

Miscarriage occurs in about 1 in every 5 pregnancies, and 1 in every 40 babies are born with a birth defect. This is called the ‘background risk’ and happens whether medication is taken or not.

Most medicines cross the placenta and reach the baby. For many medications this is not a problem. However, some medicines can affect a baby’s growth and development.

If you take regular medication and are planning to conceive, you should discuss whether your medicine is safe to continue with your doctor/health care team before becoming pregnant. If you have an unplanned pregnancy while taking a medicine, you should tell your doctor as soon as possible.

If a new medicine is suggested for you during pregnancy, please make sure that the person prescribing it knows that you are pregnant. If you have any concerns about a medicine, you can check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist.

Our Bumps information leaflets provide information about the effects of medicines in pregnancy so that you can decide, together with your healthcare provider, what is best for you and your baby.