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Getting Pregnant When You Have Lupus

When you have an autoimmune disease such as lupus, it’s best to plan when you want to get pregnant, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. Lupus is a type of disorder in which the immune system is hyperactive and begins to attack healthy tissues – it is the polar opposite of having Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The immune system is underactive for AIDS patients, so it cannot adequately fight off infections.

Women who have lupus may be concerned about family planning, especially because certain medications are potentially dangerous for their growing baby. However, lupus and pregnancy are no longer impossible combination, which has been the case since the early 1980s. With a little planning and a little science, advanced technology, and a better understanding of lupus and its effects on the body, you can carry a healthy baby to term.

What Is Lupus?

In general, lupus affects the joints, kidneys, blood cells, and organs like the brain, heart, and lungs. Symptoms often include fatigue, joint pain, rash, and high fever. Lupus affects the body in numerous ways, but it is a highly individualized disease, which is why you should speak to an obstetrician about understanding your personal risks. Your experience might be totally different from another woman who has lupus, so try not to be too worried. Lupus is a chronic, incurable disease, meaning although current treatments can improve quality of life, it’s a disorder that requires ongoing maintenance and minimizing flare-ups.

Can I Get Pregnant if I Have Lupus?

Yes. Disease management may include medication like anti-inflammatory pills and steroids before conception, but you’ll likely have to change your medical management of lupus once you become pregnant. During pre-conception, you can get a clearer picture of your individual situation by getting bloodwork done by a rheumatologist. These are doctors who specialize in autoimmune diseases, and they can tell you if you have something called “antiphospholipid antibodies,” which means you’re more likely to clot and have a higher risk of miscarriages. This may make it necessary to start low-dose aspirin before getting pregnant. You may also be referred to a doctor who specializes in high-risk pregnancies, called a perinatologist, in addition to your regular obstetrician visits and your twice-yearly rheumatologist appointments.

You will have more obstetrician appointments as a lupus patient because your pregnancy is not low-risk, but that doesn’t mean you have to worry yourself about a possible flare-up that could affect your baby’s wellbeing. It should, in fact, reassure you that you’ll have a clear understanding of how your pregnancy is going and you’ll see your regular obstetrician about twice a week for non-stress tests and the baby will have an in-utero echocardiogram to monitor the remote possibility of a heart defect related to your lupus.

The best thing you can do for a positive outcome is to plan ahead. It will give you peace of mind and help you and your doctor achieve the best result. Remember to keep your health in check because it is dangerous to go cold turkey off your medication. Fortunately, science has made it so many women with lupus can have healthy babies and build their families.

Interested in pre-conception planning with a skilled, compassionate obstetrician and fertility expert in Palm Beach at one of our locations? Contact us at Palm Beach Fertility Center for a consultation with Dr. Mark Denker, MD. Call (888) 819-5177 or reach out via our online contact form to get started.