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New Study Finds No Increase in MS Relapses After Fertility Treatments

March 15, 2023

Fertility treatments, whether or not they resulted in a pregnancy, did not increase the rate of MS relapses in a study of 65 women with MS. Among participants, those who were taking disease modifying therapies were less likely to have a relapse. This study begins to fill an important gap in understanding the safety and impacts of fertility treatments in women with MS. 
  • Background: MS often occurs during childbearing years. There is no evidence that MS impairs fertility, but like many people in the general population, some people with MS experience the need for fertility treatments. Understanding the potential impacts of fertility treatments on MS disease activity is an important consideration, but results from research thus far have been mixed. Dr. Riley Bove, a Harry Weaver Scholar of the National MS Society at the University of California, San Francisco, led a multi-center study to try to answer this question.
  • This Study: Researchers reviewed the medical records of women with MS. Those included in the review underwent 124 cycles of fertility treatments. The study included several treatments, including hormone treatment to stimulate ovulation, ovarian stimulation with embryo transfer, and embryo transfer without ovarian stimulation. The team looked at how many relapses people had in the year before having fertility treatments and then also in the three months after each treatment.
  • Results: There was no increase in relapse rates after any type of fertility treatment. These results were maintained whether or not the treatment resulted in a pregnancy. Among participants, 43% were treated with disease-modifying therapy during fertility treatments. None of these women had a relapse in the three months after fertility treatment.
  • The Meaning: This study confirmed other recent findings that fertility treatment can be used safely in MS. Optimal MS management during conception is key. Work with a healthcare provider who is informed of the latest research findings and best practices in MS care.
  • None of the disease-modifying therapies are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use during pregnancy. It is generally recommended that treatment be stopped prior to conception. Further research in this area can expand family planning options for women with MS and increase knowledge on how to proceed with these plans safely.
Learn more… Inflammatory Activity After Diverse Fertility Treatments” by Edith L. Graham, MD, Jennifer B. Bakkensen, MD, Annika Anderson, BA, Nicola Lancki, MPH, Anne Davidson, BS, Gina Perez Giraldo, MD, Emily S. Jungheim, MD, Anna C. Vanderhoff, MD, Bridget Ostrem, MD, PhD, Evelyn Mok-Lin, MD, David Huang, MD, Carolyn J. Bevan, MD, MS, Dina Jacobs, MD, Tamara B. Kaplan, MD, Maria K. Houtchens, MD, and Riley Bove, MD is published in Neurology, Neuroimmunology and Neuroinflammation (2023;10:e200106).

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.


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