We’ve come such a long way when it comes to science and technology that we sometimes think we are invincible. And yet, there are so many things we still have to understand – and the medical world is no exception from this.
Sure, we now know a lot more about how to treat certain illnesses than we knew once century ago – but we are still left baffled and confused when it comes to too many medical conditions. Lupus is one of them. Terrible, incurable and potentially deadly, lupus affects 1.5 million Americans and much, much more people worldwide.
For the women with lupus, this disease means even more, especially for those who want to give birth at some point precisely because most of them will worry over the effects their disease can have over the baby. How does lupus affect pregnancy and is it a safe idea to get pregnant if you have lupus? Read on and find out more.
The human body is a true wonder and a mechanism meant to work perfectly. However, when one of the parts in the mechanism fails, the other ones can be harshly affected as well. The immune system, for example, is one of the most important things in the human body because it helps us naturally treat ourselves when we are faced with “invaders” (such as certain viruses, for example). However, sometimes, even defense line of the body can fail.
Lupus is one of these cases. When someone develops lupus, the body’s immunity cells start attacking the good and healthy tissues of the body. Thus, lupus can lead to the destruction of our body from within and the saddest part about everything is that there is absolutely no cure for this disease. Of course, many people manage to live well and normally with the condition, but in some cases, death can occur.
The symptoms can vary a lot according to the area of the body lupus affects (because it can affect every single system in the body). Skin rashes and swelling are the most common ones, but headaches, light sensitivity, fatigue, malaise, uneasiness, chest pain, joint pain (and sometimes even arthritis develops), hair loss, mouth sores, purple/white fingers/toes are all quite frequently encountered in patients with lupus too.
The main reason for which people with lupus cannot be permanently cured is related to the fact that the researchers have not yet been able to distinguish very clearly what the main cause of lupus is. There are, of course, several theories going around and the largest majority of the specialists agree that genetics plays a very important role. However, it is important to know that genetics alone cannot be the cause of lupus and that you will most likely need to take into consideration environmental factors as well (stress, smoking and so on).
There are four main types of lupus – and scientists have been completely unable to find an answer for any of them. Systemic lupus is by far the most dangerous and the most common one too, but discoid lupus is quite common too (which shows symptoms mainly in the form of rashes and scars on the neck, on the face and on the scalp). It is approximated that nearly 10% of the people with discoid lupus develop systemic lupus later on.
Post-natal lupus is also quite dangerous for the baby (as it will be explained further on) and it is of the highest importance that you know the fact that there are some drugs that can induce lupus too (isoniazid, hydralazine, procainamide and so on).
Pregnancy and Lupus
Women from all over the world suffer with lupus and for them, the question of whether or not they should get pregnant is a really tough one. Up until recently, most of the medical professionals would have advised a woman with lupus not to get pregnant in any way, but nowadays most of the doctors admit that lupus patients can bear healthy babies. However, there are certain things you will have to do before you actually get pregnant:
– Make sure that your disease is under control. Many lupus patients experience extended periods of time when their disease is very well-controlled and they feel very well. It is important that you are as healthy as possible when you get pregnant because this way, you have more chances to have a happy and healthy baby.
– Make sure you don’t take any kind of medication that may be harmful for your baby. Before you get pregnant, talk to your doctor and see which of the drugs you take should be replaced with something else.
– Choose an obstetrician who can deal with high-risk pregnancies. It is important that the man or woman who will take care of you during the pregnancy knows precisely how high the risk of a lupus pregnancy is.
Take into consideration the issues that may appear during the pregnancy due to your health condition:
1- Flares. Although most of the women say that they notice an improvement of their symptoms while pregnant, there are also some women for whom the situation is not as good. Make sure you are prepared for these flares and that you will know what to do when they appear.
2- Hypertension. This is also reported to be an issue with lupus pregnant women. Hypertension during pregnancy can be extremely dangerous because it can cause preeclampsia and that could in itself damage your pregnancy a lot (to the point where you may have to forcefully bring your baby into the world).
3- Miscarriage. The sad news is that 1 in 5 pregnant women who are diagnosed with lupus can suffer a miscarriage. Generally speaking, women with high blood pressure, women with kidney issues and women whose lupus is active are more at risk to suffer a miscarriage. Before you get pregnant, it is important that you are really prepared for anything that may come along because otherwise you risk suffering a huge shock.