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Q&A: Getting Pregnant if I Have Rheumatoid Arthritis?

I’m 29, in good health, and have never been pregnant. But there’s one catch: I have rheumatoid arthritis. Will it be difficult for my partner and me to conceive?
ByDara Pettinelli
Updated
March 2, 2017
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Experts disagree whether rheumatoid arthritis affects fertility, but it’s been proven that women with RA do take longer to conceive. This could be chalked up to the side effects of the disease for women, such as low sex drive, inconsistent ovulation, fatigue, and pain. One thing to be aware of is that the medications you might be on for RA may cause birth defects, so you have to work with your doctor to monitor medication if you’re trying to conceive. The minute you and your partner are ready to start trying for baby, see a rheumatologist. Some  medications take a month to two years to wash out of your system before it’s safe to conceive. (By the way, that goes for both men and women being treated for RA.) Your rheumatologist will also work out a treatment plan for you while you’re pregnant — some patients quit medication cold turkey and others decide to take medication alternatives.

Although some women with RA run a slight risk of  miscarriage or giving birth to a low-weight baby, the majority has normal births without complications. Ironically, 70 to 80 percent of women claim that RA symptoms improved during pregnancy. Another thing to know is that you can’t pass on the disease to your fetus. Though RA has a small genetic component, it doesn’t damage the fetus nor does the baby inherit the disease.

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