Patient Story: Rheumatoid Arthritis and Pregnancy

Manage Your Rheumatoid Arthritis Before, During, and After Pregnancy

By Karina Lichtenstein

Reviewed by William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Susan is 34 years old, married, and has a young son. She and her husband, Paul, would like to have another baby, but there's just one problem: Susan has rheumatoid arthritis. She's taking methotrexate to control her condition and she has a lot of questions. Was it safe to take medication before or during pregnancy? How would her disease be during pregnancy? She made an appointment with her rheumatologist (rheumatologists are experts in managing arthritis) to discuss her concerns.

Susan's doctor assessed her symptoms and gave her the go ahead to discontinue the methotrexate. Since the medication has the potential to cause serious birth defects, Susan's doctor advised her that she had to wait at least three months before trying to conceive. After that, it was an ideal time for her to become pregnant as her disease was in remission.

The doctor assured her that there were medications that could be used during pregnancy should her arthritis become active again. Moreover, he explained that rheumatoid arthritis, more often than not, is less active during pregnancy, perhaps a result of the hormonal effects of pregnancy. Susan was pleased to have this discussion with her doctor.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2014