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When to see your Arthritis Doctor - Pregnancy With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Feb 17, 2017
Reports show that more women are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) than men. In addition, a good number of women are diagnosed with RA in their childbearing age, in their 20s and 30s, just when they are thinking of starting a family. Fortunately, studies show that RA does not impact the likelihood of getting or staying pregnant. Still, you need the help of your Riverside arthritis doctor to help you identify safe medications to take while pregnant.

How pregnancy affects RA
Although some women are afraid of the associated pain, fatigue, and side effects of the medication giving them a hard pregnancy, numerous reports suggest that disease activity improves considerably during pregnancy. Researchers argue that pregnancy diminishes the immune system function to prevent the body from identifying the baby as a 'foreign invader'. Owing to the reduced immune system activity, the expectant mother naturally experiences less pain and inflammation until delivery.

There are some instances where RA stays active or flares up during the pregnancy. So, it is important that you discuss with your Riverside arthritis doctor about changing or adjusting your RA treatment to control flares during pregnancy and reduce any risks that the treatments may have on the developing fetus.

Here are some useful tips if you're planning on starting a family while living with RA:

RA itself has no effect on the developing fetus, with the vast majority of women having normal, full-term pregnancies. However, some RA medications, including leflunomide and methotrexate can cause birth defects if taken by the mother or father before conception. So, discuss the use of any drugs with your partner before trying to conceive.

Although rheumatologists disagree on reduced fertility in men or women with RA, reports show that about 40 percent of women with RA take longer to conceive than those without RA due to decreased sex drive, inconsistent ovulation, or having sex less often due to fatigue and pain. Men may also experience decreased libido, erectile problems, and low sperm count. But with well managed RA, fertility in most patients is normal. You just need to be patient.

Getting pregnant with rheumatoid arthritis
Generally, women with RA are observed to have a smaller family size due to a number of reasons, including patient choice, the use of RA medication during family planning, and subfertility owing to disease activity.

Reports also indicate that many women limit the number of pregnancies due to arthritis-related concerns such as the fear that disease activity will be impacted, reduced ability to care for children, and fear that they will pass on RA susceptibility to their offspring.

Although many women with RA tend to have fewer children, reports show that this is largely a personal choice to limit family size as opposed to the inability to conceive and carry a baby to term. Before you start trying to conceive, it is important that you discuss with your Riverside arthritis doctor about your treatment, especially concerning the drugs you're taking to avoid harming the developing fetus. That said, know that you and your family can still enjoy quality life with RA.
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