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Autoimmune disease

Autoimmune disease refers to the condition when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks one’s healthy cells, tissues and organs.

What causes autoimmune disease?

The exact cause of autoimmune diseases is not clear. It is believed there may be a genetic predilection to autoimmunity in some people. Other reasons or factors that can trigger autoimmune diseases are infections caused by certain bacteria or viruses. Also, certain chemicals and environmental irritants etc. may trigger autoimmunity.

How can autoimmune diseases influence fertility?

Autoimmune disorders may affect reproductive organs including ovaries or lining of the womb (endometrium) in women and testes in men. In women with autoimmune disease effecting ovaries, ovarian reserve (quantity and quality of eggs at any given age) can get prematurely reduced. Therefore, it could shorten the reproductive lifespan of those women. Similarly, the sperm count can prematurely get reduced in men.

Autoimmune conditions, including diabetes, autoimmune thyroid disease, systemic lupus erythematosus etc., are common examples and are associated with reduced fertility. 

What is the treatment for infertility in patients with autoimmune disease?

The definite causes of autoimmune diseases are unknown; hence there is a lack of specific treatment for various conditions. It is important that the autoimmune condition is diagnosed, well managed and the condition is stable before fertility treatment, for best outcomes. Specialist opinion from a fertility doctor and a rheumatologist can guide individuals with autoimmune disease during their journey of trying to conceive. At ART Fertility Clinics, our expert doctors have good understanding and treat infertility in close collaboration with the rheumatologists/specialist physicians.

The takeaway

Autoimmune diseases can make immune system attack and damage body’s own organs, including reproductive organs. This can lead to difficulty in conceiving. Timely diagnosis and management, before fertility treatments will improve your chances of having a successful treatment and pregnancy.

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