Dealing with lupus is a daily reality for the rest of your life. Depending on the severity and the frequency of your flare-ups, you may be managing symptoms with an array of medications and treatments to keep it under control. But did you know that some of those treatments may affect your ability to get and stay pregnant?
Our experts at University Reproductive Associates specialize in all infertility issues regardless of the cause. If you have lupus and are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant, you’re considered at high risk. Partnering with URA on your family planning journey, you significantly increase your chances of successful conception and lower your risk for miscarriage. Here’s what you need to know.
Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, which means that your immune system, which is designed to protect you, malfunctions and starts to attack your tissues instead. It targets your organs and tissues, triggering inflammation throughout your body. That inflammation can cause dysfunction and pain in your skin, heart, joints, blood, kidneys, brain, and lungs.
There’s no cure for lupus, and it behaves differently from person to person. It can come on slowly or suddenly and can be constant or intermittent. The symptoms, which include headache, fever, rashes, fatigue, joint stiffness, shortness of breath, and chest pain can be triggered by medications, infections, or even the sunlight.
Treatments for lupus include a range of medications, including over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, antimalarial medications, immunosuppressants, corticosteroids, chemotherapy.
How lupus affects your fertility
Lupus does not cause infertility, but it may complicate things. While it’s safe to become pregnant even if you have lupus, it’s best to wait until your lupus has been inactive for at least six months. Despite your best efforts, you may still encounter complications.
Lupus flare-ups may occur during pregnancy
Even if your lupus was under control when you got pregnant, there’s no guarantee it won’t return during your pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when this happens, it’s usually a mild case, and it typically occurs in the first or second trimester. But mild or not, it’s essential that you come to see us if you notice any lupus symptoms during your pregnancy.
Lupus can cause preeclampsia
One of the risks of being pregnant and having lupus is the chance you might be one of the 20% of women who develop preeclampsia during their pregnancy. Preeclampsia, a serious problem that starts with high blood pressure and affects your liver and kidneys, is serious and sometimes fatal if left untreated. Classic signs of preeclampsia include blurry vision, abdominal pain, headaches, dizziness, and swelling in your face and hands. If this happens, seek immediate medical attention.
Lupus treatments can affect your pregnancy
More than lupus itself, the treatments you take to control it may affect your ability to get pregnant or carry your baby full term. Chemotherapy can harm your ovaries, and corticosteroids can lead to high blood pressure, kidney problems, and diabetes, each of which complicates your pregnancy. If you’re taking any medications for lupus and plan to get pregnant, you need a team of physicians who are experts in high-risk pregnancies like ours on your side.
Having lupus doesn’t mean an end to your dreams of having a family, but it does mean you need to take special precautions for you and your baby. And if you’re undergoing treatment for lupus now but aren’t ready to have children yet; we can help you take steps to preserve your fertility in the future.
To learn more about lupus and how it impacts fertility and pregnancy, contact us at any of our locations in Hasbrouck Heights, Wayne, or Hoboken, New Jersey, today. Or schedule a telehealth appointment to talk to one of our specialists from the comfort of your own home. Just call 201-288-6330 or visit us at www.uranj.com.