Does Multiple Sclerosis Affect Your Pregnancy?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is common in pregnant women than any other group.

Pregnant women diagnosed with multiple sclerosis are often confused and have doubts about the effects of the disease on their child.

Effects of multiple sclerosis on fertility:

Your ability to become pregnant is not affected by the disease.

There is no evidence that the disease impairs fertility or leads to increased number of stillbirths, spontaneous abortions and congenital malformations.

Effects of multiple sclerosis on pregnancy:

According to the studies, MS is on average less active during pregnancy. Pregnancy appears to have a protective effect on women with MS and relapses occur less frequently. MS exacerbations are reduced during pregnancy, especially in the second and third trimesters. Women with MS need no special care during labor and delivery and no special management is needed.

Women with MS who are considering pregnancy need to be aware of certain drugs that are used to treat MS and should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding. These drugs can cause birth defects as they pass into the fetus through blood or into the infant through breast milk.

Drop in stress hormones can lead to arthritis, multiple sclerosis after pregnancy:

A sharp drop in stress hormones after giving birth to a child may influence some women to develop certain conditions in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disorder in which the immune system apparently causes swelling, pain, stiffness and loss of function in the joints. In MS, the immune system attacks the nervous system and brain.

Interleukin 12 (IL-12) and tumor necrosis factor alpha TNF alpha are the immune hormones involved in triggering the body’s immune cells to ward off disease causing invaders. Both hormones involve in the swelling and destruction of tissue seen in rhematoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

In pregnant women with MS or rheumatoid arthritis, symptoms disappear during third trimester and symptoms often return after giving birth.

Attack or relapse occurs in the first three to six months after the childbirth and the risk of attack is 20 to 40 percent. It is important to plan for the treatment in case if you have a relapse. If MS affects after the childbirth, you may feel more tired.

Levels of stress hormone were two to three times higher than they were after women had given birth. These stress hormones serve to hinder the production of immune system hormones. Due to the drop in stress hormones and increase in immune responses after the childbirth, exacerbation of disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis takes place.

Usage of drugs during and after pregnancy:

If you are taking drugs for MS such as Avonex, Betaseron, Novantrone, Rebif, or Copaxone, discuss with your doctor to become pregnant. You should also discuss about the drugs if you have any other health problems during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

On the whole, women with MS enjoy trouble free pregnancies.