Autoimmunity & Infertility

What is Autoimmune Infertility?

Autoimmunity and Infertility

Dr. Gleicher explains autoimmune disorders and how they affect fertility.

The term autoimmune disease refers to a varied group of more than 80 serious, chronic illnesses that involve almost every human organ system. In all of these diseases, the body's immune system becomes misdirected, and attacks the very organs it was designed to protect. About 75% of autoimmune diseases occur in women, most frequently during the childbearing years.

"Affected women need two layers of treatment: a first layer to conceive, and a second to prevent pregnancy loss after conception."

Dr. Norbert Gleicher

Autoimmune diseases can affect connective tissue, the tissue that binds together various tissues and organs. It can also affect the nerves, muscles, endocrine system, and gastrointestinal system. There are a large number of autoimmune diseases, with multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis being some of the most common.

Because abnormal immune function can affect fertility as well as miscarriage risk, affected women need two layers of treatment: a first layer to conceive, and a second to prevent pregnancy loss after conception. This is a very important point: it would not make sense to receive fertility treatment to get pregnant, only to experience an emotionally painful and potentially preventable pregnancy loss.

Last Updated: November 15, 2014

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