August 3, 2022

Do you have lupus? What you should know about birth control

Autoimmune diseases like lupus can change which methods of birth control are safe and effective.

What you should know about birth control

It goes without saying that you are not the only person who has an autoimmune condition. There are more than 80 autoimmune diseases. Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis affect about 7% of Americans.
Autoimmune diseases seem to disproportionately affect women for unidentified reasons. They frequently start before or during prospective child-bearing years, so it's likely that you'll need to think about the following significant questions: In a previous post, we talked about how family planning and pregnancy are impacted by autoimmune diseases like lupus. And what birth control methods are best for me?

The American College of Rheumatology and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have both endorsed guidelines that might assist you and your medical team in finding the answers to these queries. These recommendations are supported by professional judgement and medical research.


Think about lupus

Lupus, also known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is an autoimmune condition that can harm and inflame many organs throughout the body. Lupus usually happens between the ages of 15 and 35, and 90% of the time it affects biologically females. Family planning is crucial for those with autoimmune illnesses since an unexpected pregnancy can be harmful to both the mother and the foetus and because some medications can interfere with birth control tablets.
Fortunately, there are a variety of secure and reliable birth control methods available for those who want to avoid getting pregnant. Each has significant benefits and drawbacks to consider (see the Harvard Health Birth Control Center for details). But if you have lupus, there are other things you should talk about with your health care team, such as:

How active or aggressive is your disease? Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism are two types of potentially harmful blood clots that can develop when lupus is active. You may become more prone to developing blood clots if you use birth control that contains oestrogen, such as many birth control pills, the ring, and the patch. So, a birth control pill without oestrogen or an intrauterine device (IUD) might be safer.

Are there any antiphospholipid antibodies in your blood? These antibodies may also make you more likely to develop a risky blood clot. People with these antibodies should not take estrogen-containing birth control, even if their lupus is dormant.
What birth control methods do you favour and have you used them before? Some people favour the most sensible course of action (such as an IUD or birth control implant). Others might prefer a condom or a diaphragm because they want to avoid surgery or medications. If a particular method of birth control, like condoms, didn't work to prevent conception in the past, you might prefer a different one moving forward. Talking with your medical team about your preferences and past experiences could help you make a choice you feel good about. 

Which medications do you take?

The effectiveness of birth control pills may be decreased by certain medications (such as mycophenolate).
If you have lupus, discuss your options with your doctor and decide on the best course of action together. It's also a good idea to talk about backup plans, including Plan B or the so-called morning after pill.

If you smoke, try your hardest to stop. Most likely, you are already aware of the standard health hazards associated with smoking, including a higher chance of cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and lung disease. But the risk of blood that doesn't clot properly goes up a lot if you have lupus and smoke, and it goes up even more if you use birth control with oestrogen.
Smoking may also increase the chance of developing more severe lupus and reduce the effectiveness of some treatments. If you haven't been able to quit smoking on your own, talk to your doctor or nurse.

The conclusion

Most lupus patients can effectively avoid becoming pregnant unintentionally and pursue a wanted pregnancy when they're ready. Though certain specifics differ, the situation for people with various autoimmune disorders is similar.



No Health content on this site, regardless of date, should be used to replace direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained practitioner.
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