If so, you may be among the many women with these autoimmune disorders who have fewer children than you wanted. A new study on younger women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or system lupus erythematosus (SLE) found that more than half of the women surveyed with these conditions have fewer kids than they desired, according to research published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.
The researchers talked to over nearly 600 women with RA and 114 with lupus and asked them if, at the time of the onset of their symptoms, they had fewer children than they’d planned, the same amount they planned, or if they weren’t interested in having kids. While more than 60% were no longer interested in have children at the time of their diagnosis, 55% of those with RA and 64% of those with SLE wanted more children than they ended up having.
Women with both conditions are at greater risk for infertility and miscarriage. The women with RA who had fewer children than they wanted had a 1.5-fold increased risk for infertility compared to women with the condition who had the number of kids they planned for.
The link between RA and fertility is far from clear, however. Megan Clowse, the lead author of the study, told WebMD.com that “this study highlights the need to understand why women with rheumatoid arthritis appear to have more problems with infertility. “This has not been studied at all.”
The link between lupus and miscarriage is better known, however. The Lupus Foundation of America notes that antiphospholipid antibodies, which occur with lupus, interfere with the function of blood vessels and can leave to miscarriage, among other serious complications. Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood, and kidneys, says the Foundation.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that leads to joint and tissue inflammation.