Autoimmune Disorders, Unintended Factors for Fertility
Autoimmune diseases are one of the health disorders that attack the immune system in the body. Many believe that autoimmune conditions can affect fertility. However, read the full explanation!
Autoimmune disorders are experienced by individuals with a weakened immune or immune system. Autoimmunity occurs when antibodies that should target germs or viruses experience errors or abnormalities, leading them to attack the body’s own cells.
These antibodies can attack the organ system or specific organs, including the reproductive organs.
According to the Ministry of Health, autoimmune diseases are divided into several types, namely:
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- Multiple sclerosis
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
Autoimmune diseases can affect both men and women. However, this condition is particularly at risk for women of childbearing age, between 20-50 years old. So, is it true that autoimmune diseases affect fertility?
The Influence of Autoimmunity on Fertility
Autoimmunity can affect one or even several organs of the body at once. This can lead autoimmunity to attack the reproductive organs. It may attack the vulva, but it can also affect the vulva and ovaries.
According to research published in the Journal of Immunology Research, when autoimmune disorders occur in the reproductive organs, either as a whole or in immune system reactions, they can specifically target ovarian antigens, which can affect fertility.
In addition, autoimmune disorders can affect women of childbearing age, leading to conditions such as amenorrhea, an abnormal cessation of menstruation, and menorrhagia, a condition where women experience excessive bleeding during menstruation.
These conditions occur due to inflammation in the body caused by autoimmune disorders.
Furthermore, certain medications such as cyclophosphamide (CYC), used to alleviate symptoms, can increase the chances of fertilization. Moreover, high-dose steroid treatment can have side effects such as menstrual disturbances and decreased sexual desire (libido).
Can Autoimmune Patients Still Get Pregnant?
If you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition and plan to start a pregnancy program, it is advisable to consult with a doctor regularly, ideally 3 to 6 months before. During the consultation, the doctor will determine the appropriate treatment or therapy for each individual’s condition. This is expected to ensure a healthy and safe pregnancy.
It is important to note that during pregnancy, women may experience some issues, especially during the first and second trimesters, or a few months after giving birth.
In some complicated cases, pregnant women with autoimmune conditions have a higher risk of developing preeclampsia. Therefore, pregnant women are advised not to skip routine pregnancy check-ups for the health of both the mother and the fetus.
As of now, there is no increased risk of mental disorders or birth defects being passed from mothers with lupus or other autoimmune disorders.
Remember, all medication should be taken under the supervision of the doctor managing your pregnancy when you are confirmed pregnant.
To date, autoimmune diseases cannot be completely cured, but the symptoms can be minimized and prevented to avoid flare-ups, which are severe symptom occurrences.
It is advisable for pregnant women to get enough rest, consume a balanced and nutritious diet, drink an adequate amount of water, and take medications or supplements as recommended by the doctor.
- Kikkatalo, K.H., et al. (2012). Review on Autoimmune Reactions in Female Infertility: Antibodies to Follicle Stimulating Hormone. Hindawi Publishing Corporation Clinical and Developmental Immunology, Volume 2012, Article ID 762541, 15 pages.
- Direktorat Jenderal Pelayanan Kesehatan – Kementerian Kesehatan Republik Indonesia. Autoimun.
- Direktorat P2PTM Kementerian Kesehatan RI. PerikSA LUpus SendiRI (SALURI) – Memahami Program Deteksi Dini Penyakit Lupus Eritematosus Sistemik (LES).
- Lupus Foundation of America. Lupus and Pregnancy.
- WebMD. Lupus and Pregnancy: Tips for Living with Lupus While Pregnant.
- Khurana, R., et al. (2020). Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Pregnancy. rthritis & Rheumatology.