Andy asks Helen how MS will affect men and women’s fertility and what they need to think about conceiving children and getting pregnant.
How will MS affect my fertility?
There’s no evidence of any effect on fertility of MS either for men or women with MS. I think it’s also important to know that pregnancy doesn’t cause any worsening of MS. So generally, when women are pregnant they actually do rather better than when they’re not pregnant, so the relapse rate reduces during pregnancy, although there is an increased risk of relapse in the post-partum period, that’s the three months after having a baby, and that’s probably about a quarter of women will have a relapse in that period. But if you look at the whole pregnancy year, so that’s the nine months of being pregnant and the three months after pregnancy, the relapse rate is the same for a woman who’s pregnant and for a woman with MS who’s not pregnant. What I think is really important is preconception for a man or woman with MS to discuss plans for pregnancy, for conception, with either their neurologist or with their MS specialist nurse. And I think it’s also important not to defer decisions about disease modifying treatments due to plans for future pregnancy. So it’s important to have open discussions really preconception so that you have a better understanding of any risks of any possible treatments that you’re taking, or any plans for treatments if you’re planning a pregnancy in the future.
So I suppose in those discussions, another thing that might come up is worries about the risk of MS for the children that are born. Can you say anything about whether that’s a major risk factor in MS, the parents?
So it certainly isn’t a major risk factor. There is evidence of a very small increased risk of MS for a child of a parent with MS, but it is a very small increase. So certainly it isn’t a major consideration for somebody planning a pregnancy who has MS.
MS Reporter: Andy
MS Expert: Dr. Helen Ford, neurologist.