An autoimmune disorder is caused by an immune reaction in which the body produces abnormal antibodies that attack and destroy the body’s tissues. Autoimmune disorders include a wide variety of disorders, including many disorders of connective tissue such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis.
It is also implicated in reproductive disorders and may especially play a role in unexplained cases of infertility. Symptoms of an autoimmune disorder vary based on the disease and location of the abnormal immune response. Many of the diseases have similar symptoms, which makes it very difficult to diagnose.
Unfortunately, autoimmune diseases remain among the most poorly understood illnesses. It is thought that hormones play a role in inducing autoimmune diseases as women are more often affected compared to men, and many of these conditions seem to flare and calm down along with hormonal fluctuations.
Autoimmune diseases also show a strong link to hereditary, it appears to run in families (genetic predisposition). Also, the reason for what triggers such an immune reaction is not clear but are theorised to be linked to bacteria or virus, chemicals, and environmental irritants.
The diagnosis of autoimmune disease is based on symptoms, findings from a physical examination and results of laboratory tests.
The following tests are used to diagnose an autoimmune disease:
Antinuclear antibody tests- A type of autoantibody test that looks for antinuclear antibodies, which attack the nuclei of cells in the body
Autoantibody tests- Any of several tests that look for specific antibodies to the own tissues
Complete blood count (CBC)- Measures the numbers of red and white cells in the blood. When the immune system is actively fighting something, these figures will vary from the normal range
Reactive protein (CRP)- Elevated CRP is an indication of inflammation throughout the body
Erythrocyte sedimentation (ESR)- This test indirectly measures how much inflammation is in the body
Since the autoimmune disease is often chronic, they may require lifelong care and monitoring, even when the person may look and feel well. However, many people with these conditions live relatively normal lives when they receive proper medical care.
There are no cures for autoimmune diseases; therefore treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms. Nevertheless, eating a healthy balanced diet with regular exercise and religiously taking the prescribed immunosuppressive medications might alleviate the symptoms of an autoimmune disorder.
The autoimmune disease could aggravate during infertility treatment and pregnancy due to high hormone levels. Hence it is essential that your condition is stable, and your physician, who is treating you primarily for the disease will decide when you are allowed to get pregnant.
The mechanisms are not clearly understood, but it was shown, that patients with autoimmune diseases have a lower number of children compared to their healthy peers. In some autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatic arthritis, it seems that the so-called ovarian reserve (the number of eggs still available in the ovaries) of the affected patients is lower.This means the number of years when a woman can get pregnant (reproductive lifespan) could be shortened.
Therefore, it is important in patients with an autoimmune disease to evaluate the ovarian reserve,to achieve a stable condition of the disease which allows a pregnancy and not to postpone the family planning for a extended period.
As the causes of autoimmune disease are not well understood, it is not surprising that there is a lack of specific treatments for the various conditions.
ivi-middle-east Fertility Clinic can treat infertility in close collaboration with your rheumatologist / internal physician. Also during pregnancy a close cooperation between your ObGyn doctor and your rheumatologist is of utmost importance. For more information and to discuss your options, you can book your first consultation with us.
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