Multiple sclerosis is more common in women of childbearing age than in any other age group. And the good news is, if you are trying to get pregnant with multiple sclerosis, the condition has no effect on fertility. But what does having MS mean for your pregnancy? Read on to find out.
Managing Multiple Sclerosis While Trying to Get Pregnant
Unfortunately, most of the disease-management drugs currently in use are not approved for use during pregnancy. Little research has been done on the effects of most disease-management drugs for people trying to conceive. However, general advice indicates that women should stop these drug treatments one to two months prior to trying to get pregnant. Both men and women with MS should discuss options with their doctors.
Managing Multiple Sclerosis While Pregnant
Once a woman has conceived, there’s more good news. Pregnancy has actually been shown to have positive effects on MS symptoms. During pregnancy, the your immune system responses decrease slightly while neuroprotective hormones increase in order to protect the developing baby. This creates an anti-inflammatory effect which has a positive impact on MS symptoms. A woman’s risk of MS relapse decreases steadily during pregnancy, with the lowest risk in the third trimester. There is a slightly elevated risk for C-sections with MS due to muscle weakness, but most women with MS give birth just as successfully as those without the condition.
However, if a woman does experience severe relapses during pregnancy, short courses of corticosteroids and immunoglobulins are safe and effective after the first trimester. It should be noted that, while symptoms can improve, some symptoms can be exacerbated by pregnancy, such as fatigue, bladder and bowel symptoms, and balance problems. It’s always best to discuss your options with your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or trying to conceive.
Managing Multiple Sclerosis During the Post-Partum Period
If a woman’s disease is severe during pregnancy, it may be best for her to resume her disease-managing medication as soon as possible, usually within two weeks after delivery. However, if symptoms were manageable during the pregnancy, research shows that breastfeeding for at least 4 months after delivery reduces both the baby’s risk of developing MS (by as much as 50 percent) as well as the mother’s risk of relapse.
Women with MS are at a significantly increased risk for developing post-partum depression, so it’s important for both women and their healthcare providers to be aware of mood changes during pregnancy and after delivery.
Typically, a woman’s risk of relapse rises 3 to 6 months post-partum, before returning to her pre-pregnancy rate. Knowing this ahead of time can help you prepare for and manage your physical symptoms as well as your mental and emotional health.
Multiple Sclerosis Treatment at IVX Health
Some research suggests that getting pregnant with multiple sclerosis may have long-term or even permanent benefits for certain symptoms, and at the very least, pregnancy is unlikely to raise your risk of long-term symptoms. So, if you’ve always dreamt of starting a family or want to add to your family despite being diagnosed with MS, there’s no reason not to discuss your options with your doctor.
If your treatment regimen includes biologic infusion or injection therapies for MS such as Ocrevus, Lemtrada, or Tysabri, consider IVX Health for your treatment. We offer appointments that fit your schedule (days, evenings and weekends) in comfortable private suites so you can enjoy your time while receiving treatment.
We also feature comfortable recliners, flat-screen TVS and seating for guests so you can relax on your own or even spend time with friends or loved ones. We’ll even provide the drinks and snacks.
If you’re ready to experience how we are redefining care for patients with chronic conditions, contact us to schedule an appointment at one of our many convenient locations.