All You Need to Know About Autoimmune Diseases and Pregnancy

In recent years, there has been an increasing diagnosis of autoimmune diseases among women due to various reasons. This article will provide you with all you need to know about autoimmune diseases and how they affect pregnancy.

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Omooma
Published on:Nov 1st 2023 |Updated on:Feb 10th 2024
أمراض المناعة الذاتية والحمل

What are Autoimmune Diseases?

Autoimmune diseases occur due to a malfunction in the immune system, where the body attacks itself by generating autoantibodies like those produced when a virus or bacteria enters the body. This leads to dysfunction in various body systems. It is noteworthy that these diseases are more prevalent in women than men, attributed to the fact that women's immune systems are significantly stronger than men's.

Common Autoimmune Diseases

Type one Diabetes

This is caused by an immune malfunction affecting the efficiency of the pancreas, resulting in its inability to produce sufficient insulin to regulate blood sugar.

Thyroid Diseases

Such as Graves' disease, a disorder affecting the thyroid, making it overactive. There’s also Hashimoto's disease, or chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, causing inflammation and gradual damage.

Lupus

Also known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect any part of the body. Its symptoms can range from mild to severe, requiring treatment and monitoring.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This chronic autoimmune disease primarily affects the joints. The immune system attacks the tissues in the joints, leading to inflammation and pain.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

 A chronic autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. In MS, the immune system attacks myelin, the protective covering of nerve fibers, leading to nerve damage and deterioration of function.

Common Symptoms of Autoimmune Diseases

Each autoimmune disease has distinct symptoms, but some common ones include:

  • Persistent fatigue and exhaustion.
  • Pain and swelling in muscles or joints can be constant or episodic.
  • Skin disorders like rashes or changes in skin color.
  • Slight fever without an apparent cause.
  • Unintended weight changes without diet or activity level alterations.
  • Digestive issues like diarrhea or constipation.
  • Numbness or tingling in hands and feet.

Do Autoimmune Diseases Affect Fertility?

These diseases can affect fertility in women and men by affecting the reproductive system. If you are trying to conceive and have an autoimmune disease, consult with your doctor and a fertility specialist to devise an appropriate treatment plan.

How Do Autoimmune Diseases Affect Pregnancy?

Experts indicate that the immune system does not attack fetal cells during pregnancy. The placenta contains special cells that protect the fetus from the mother’s blood circulation and immune system. Additionally, the immune response is typically reduced during pregnancy, which lowers the risk of the body attacking itself. Women with autoimmune diseases may experience improved conditions during pregnancy. Hence, there is no need to fear pregnancy if you have an autoimmune disease. However, thorough pre-pregnancy checks and intensive monitoring with a fertility specialist and an immunologist are crucial. Post-conception, continuous follow-ups with an obstetrician and an immunologist are advised.

Can You Continue Autoimmune Disease Treatment During Pregnancy?

If you have an autoimmune condition, you can usually continue your treatment to maintain your health and that of your fetus. There are very few medications that must be avoided entirely during pregnancy, and if you’re taking any, your doctor will prescribe an alternative. Most drugs used for autoimmune diseases, such as Hydroxychloroquine and Plaquenil, have been used for years, with substantial evidence suggesting they are safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, it's best to confirm with your OBGYN before taking any medication during pregnancy.

 

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OmoomaOmooma | First Online Arabic Motherhood Training Platform

Omooma is the first Online platform offering classes in Arabic dedicated to mothers and mothers-to-be. In addition to content covering many relevant topics, women’s health, pregnancy, fertility, child’s health, and parenting. Omooma’s articles are written by medical writers, based on extensive research, and reviewed by a panel of experts who are part of the largest team of experts available in the region in all fields related to the journey of motherhood.

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