What is an autoimmune disease?
An autoimmune disease occurs when your immune system perceives your tissues or cell as foreign or abnormal. And autoimmune disorders are known to cause infertility. The white blood cells in the bloodstream begin to attack its own tissues, causing inflammation and cell damage.
This damage causes cell abnormalities and eventual inability to induce or sustain a pregnancy. Autoimmune diseases can affect the thyroid glands, the joints, and even the ovaries. An autoimmune attack on the ovaries can reduce your ovarian reserve and eventually lead to either infertility and early menopause or both.
Do I need to be tested?
It is advisable to undergo testing for autoimmune diseases should you have had difficulty with conception despite trying for almost a year. Some of the autoimmune conditions you will be tested for include:
- Ovarian reserve depletion
- Thyroid gland malfunction
- Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome
- Anti-sperm antibodies.
Can autoimmune diseases be treated?
Yes. Autoimmune diseases can be treated, and their symptoms can be subdued. It is imperative to bring the autoimmune diseases under control for the fertility treatments to be successful.
Do Autoimmune Diseases Affect Fertility?
Yes. Autoimmune diseases do affect fertility. However, explaining the link between the two is a little more complex. Couples with pre-existing autoimmune conditions have a greater propensity to have unsuccessful attempts at IVF and other fertility treatments. With a normally functioning immune system, the body recognizes a pregnancy as a desirable condition and does not fight it given the fact that initially, the embryo will seem like a foreign object and might trigger a response.
Common Autoimmune Diseases and Fertility
Some of the common autoimmune diseases include:
- Systemic Lupus – is a chronic disease that can have phases of worsening symptoms that alternate with periods of mild symptoms. And causes inflammation in connective tissues, such as cartilage and the lining of blood vessels
- Rheumatoid arthritis – is a progressive autoimmune disease that initially causes signs and symptoms like joint pain and swelling in the feet and hands, when your immune system causes your body to make too much of the protein collagen.
- Scleroderma – is a long-lasting disease that affects your skin, connective tissue, and internal organs. It happens when your immune system causes your body to make too much of the protein collagen, an important part of your skin.