Will we be able to have a baby?
There’s no reason why arthritis should prevent you from having children, but you should discuss it with your doctor before trying for a baby for the following reasons:
- Some drugs, such as sulfasalazine, can temporarily reduce the sperm count in men.
- Some studies suggest that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may increase the risk of miscarriage if taken around the time of conception.
- Methotrexate and leflunomide can be harmful to an unborn child so need to be stopped at least three months (some doctors recommend six months) before trying to conceive. For leflunomide, you may be able to have a special 'washout' treatment to remove the drug from your body more quickly. It’s important to discuss contraception with a health professional if you're taking one of these drugs.
- Women with lupus and/or antiphospholipid syndrome may have a greater risk of miscarriage, so your condition and the pregnancy may need to be more closely monitored than usual. If you're thinking of having a baby it's best to discuss this with your rheumatology team beforehand.
- Some drugs may pass into the breast milk and could be harmful to your baby so it’s best to discuss with your doctor beforehand which drugs you can safely use if you wish to breastfeed.
Women with arthritis may find they have more discomfort in the back, hips or knees during pregnancy because of their increasing weight. Women with lupus may have flare-ups of their symptoms during pregnancy, but women with rheumatoid arthritis may find their symptoms ease while they're pregnant.
Childbirth can aggravate pain in these joints, but most women can find a position that allows them to give birth naturally.
You can find more information and advice about trying for a baby when you have arthritis in our pregnancy and arthritis section.