Rheumatoid arthritis: a TTC problem?
Women with rheumatoid arthritis may have a harder time becoming pregnant.
The study, of more than 68,000 pregnant women, showed that those with rheumatoid arthritis generally had a tougher time conceiving compared to women without the disease.
The researchers found that 25% of women with rheumatoid arthritis had tried unsuccessfully for at least a year before they finally became pregnant, whereas only 16% of women without the disease had needed that much time. And 10% of the women with RA had been treated for infertility, compared with just under 8% of other women.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) arises when the immune system mistakenly attacks tissue in the joints, leading to inflammation, pain and progressive joint damage. The disease is more common in women than men, and though it most often arises in middle-age, it can affect young adults too.
RA is not the same as the more familiar osteoarthritis, which commonly affects elderly people and athletes and is caused by wear and tear on the joints.
It has not been clear whether RA, or the drugs used to treat it, might interfere with a woman's fertility.
However, it’s possible that other factors might explain the longer time to pregnancy among women with RA.
"We do not know whether the longer time to pregnancy is caused specifically by RA or its treatment," said lead researcher Dr. Damini Jawaheer.
He pointed out that women who are trying to become pregnant are often told to stop using RA medications. That's because some can cause birth defects.
It's possible, Jawaheer speculated, that when women stop taking their medication, there is a flare-up of the RA that somehow hinders their ability to conceive. But most women with RA are ultimately able to conceive, said Jawaheer.
Are you trying to conceive and suffering from rheumatoid arthritis?