I have lupus. How will this affect my plans to get pregnant pregnancy?

I have lupus. How will this affect my plans to get pregnant pregnancy?

Lupus, or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and damage to various body tissues, leading to painful or swollen joints and skin rashes, among other symptoms. Treatment is often in the form of corticosteroids, so pregnancy counselling and planning are very important. Ideally, you should be symptom-free and not taking medication for six months before you conceive.

Women suffering from lupus are at higher risk of miscarriage, particularly those who have tested positive for antiphospholipid antibodies (APAs) or anti-nuclear antibodies (ANAs). Fortunately, with correct diagnosis, and even though the pregnancy is considered high risk, most of these women now go on to carry their babies safely to term. Regular care and good nutrition during pregnancy are essential because lupus sufferers are more likely to develop high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney complications.

Some women may experience a mild to moderate flare-up during or after pregnancy, but it is really important that you are under the care of a specialist during your pregnancy, so that complications can be spotted early and managed quickly. some form of medical treatment (which could include surgery) to improve your chance of conceiving. However, changes to your diet may also improve some of your symptoms and reduce the severity of the condition (see Step 6). Certain complementary therapies, including acupuncture, may also help (see pages 134-135).

Fibroids These benign tumours grow in the uterine cavity inside or outside the uterus. They are very common (as many as 20 to 50 per cent of women aged between 35 and 50 are thought to have them) and in many cases they don’t harm a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. Often, the presence of fibroids produces no symptoms at all, although some women do experience pain, heavy or irregular bleeding, and menstrual cramps.

Fibroids may impact on fertility if they are on the outside of the uterus preventing the fallopian tube from retrieving an egg after ovulation. If they are growing on the wall of the uterus, they may interfere with the embryo’s ability to implant in the uterine lining. Larger fibroids (4-5cm/l1/2-2in in diameter) can cause problems in later pregnancy.

Fibroids may be treated with conventional medicine (including surgery) but as they are oestrogen-sensitive, a low-fat, high-fibre diet can also help. (Fat cells stimulate oestrogen production, so reducing fat intake will reduce your levels of that hormone). Acupuncture and reflexology may also help (see Steps 6 and 8).

Fibroid

This X-ray of a woman’s uterus, highlighted using radio opaque material, shows a fibroid growing on the internal wall.

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