Having an autoimmune disease often means having symptoms like fatigue, body aches and pains, skin issues, and hair loss. Though it's less well-known, there is an association between infertility and autoimmune disease. For some struggling to conceive, IVF might be an option. Here, we will provide information on autoimmune disease, infertility, and IVF success.
Can Autoimmune Disease Cause Infertility?
If you've been diagnosed with autoimmunity and envision your future including childbirth, you may have wondered about the relationship between autoimmune disease and infertility. It's important to know that having an autoimmune disease does not mean that you will experience infertility. However, an autoimmune disease might make it more difficult to conceive. Though, many women with autoimmunity conceive naturally, despite their condition. If you're planning to try to get pregnant soon, it can be helpful to have as much information as possible about increasing your chances of having a healthy pregnancy.
Are Certain Autoimmune Diseases Associated With a Higher Risk for Infertility?
Lupus, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren's syndrome are autoimmune disorders that have each been linked to potential pregnancy complications, but not necessarily infertility. Complications from these diseases can include birth weight, preterm labor, and preeclampsia. Remember, if you have one of these conditions, this does not mean that you will experience infertility, especially with frequent monitoring and precautions in place.
With autoimmunity, the body confuses foreign invaders with its own tissues and starts to attack itself. This attack results in inflammation. In turn, increased inflammation can lead to decreased or irregular ovulation. Disruptions to ovulation can make planning pregnancy a challenge. You can boost your chances for a healthy pregnancy by taking steps to decrease inflammation and stress.
Increasing the Chances of Pregnancy With an Autoimmune Disease
Things to Discuss With Your Doctor
If you are without a diagnosis but experience common autoimmune disease symptoms and have a history of high-risk pregnancy or recurrent miscarriage, it's important to visit a doctor or endocrinologist. A doctor can test for possible autoimmune markers and potentially identify pre-autoimmune conditions like PCOS and endometriosis.
If you have already been diagnosed with either PCOS or endometriosis, tell your doctor. These conditions can impact fertility. Additionally, let your doctor know if you have irregular periods, cystic acne, hair growth, or unexplained weight gain.
Prioritize Nutrition, Hydration, and Rest
Food can be powerful. Increasing whole fruits and vegetables in your diet ensures that you have a variety of nutrients and minerals for you and your baby. If you have the MTHFR gene (common with autoimmune disease) and have trouble methylating, pay special attention to your prenatal vitamin. Choose a prenatal vitamin with folate, not folic acid.
Getting adequate hydration is also important when trying to conceive and during pregnancy. Try keeping track of how much water you're drinking throughout the day and set a realistic goal. If you're in the Mymee program, you can track water intake within the app.
Focusing on sleep and stress are also ways to increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy and bolster your immune system. Implementing meditation or yoga and prioritizing quality sleep are considerable factors in reducing inflammation and improving the chances of a healthy pregnancy.
Autoimmune Disease and IVF Success
Some people may consider IVF as a fertility treatment option when having trouble conceiving. IVF, or in vitro fertilization, is a procedure to collect eggs and fertilize them outside of the uterus. In the case of irregular ovulation, IVF may be helpful because of the close monitoring required. The success rate of IVF can vary, especially when factoring in an autoimmune diagnosis. Variables like overall health, stress, and age also play a role in autoimmune disease and IVF success. It is also recommended to have the male's sperm tested as well and optimize his wellness protocol.
In the case of natural pregnancy or IVF, being proactive is key. As mentioned above, look at lifestyle and nutrition components before trying to conceive. It can be beneficial to track your period and become familiar with vaginal discharge that can lead to clues of ovulation.
Make sure that you have a doctor and a team of wellness providers that you trust and that make you feel heard. If you have trouble conceiving and have an autoimmune disease, medical professionals or a fertility center can be a vital part of your support system. It's critical to share any symptoms you may be having with your doctors.
Trying to conceive can take a toll on your emotional and mental well-being. It's essential to surround yourself with not only trusted professionals but also trusted friends and family members. This journey can be exciting but also stressful.
If you suspect that your autoimmune disease symptoms might be a factor in your fertility, talk to a Mymee health coach. Mymee health coaches expertly identify factors within your day-to-day life, like diet and sleep, that are unique to you and your symptom triggers.