Autoimmunity & Infertility


Since autoimmune diseases are often chronic, they may require lifelong care and monitoring, even when the person may look and feel well. Currently, few autoimmune diseases can be cured or made to disappear with treatment. However, many people with these diseases live relatively normal lives when they receive proper medical care. When it comes to pregnancies with autoimmune conditions, proactive management becomes key, as they can make both getting pregnant and keeping the pregnancy a challenge.

At CHR, our physicians apply multiple layers of treatments specific to holistically managing immune abnormalities to help our patients get pregnant and keep the pregnancy to term. These proactive treatments, including the use of intralipids, IVIg and other medications, are designed to help the embryos implant and develop in the uterus and reduce the risk of recurrent miscarriages, which is associated with immune abnormalities.

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Infertility Treatment

As the causes of autoimmune diseases are not well understood, it is not surprising that we still lack specific treatments for the various conditions. What we can treat are usually selected symptoms of diseases, which, at times, may include infertility. Indeed, mostly through Dr. Gleicher's work, we, in some women, have come to see infertility as a fairly typical early symptom of abnormal female autoimmune function.

Because of our special expertise in this area, CHR sees a large volume of women with clinically overt autoimmune diseases who suffer from infertility and/or pregnancy losses. Equally importantly, we have seen many women with subclinical autoimmunityautoimmunity suffering from similar fertility problems. The good news is that with aggressive treatment addressing the unique issues caused by autoimmunity, most autoimmune patients can conceive and deliver healthy children.

In a preliminary, though quite provocative, study published in 2006 in the Journal of Autoimmunity, Dr. Gleicher for the first time suggested that the risk to develop autoimmune disease may be influenced by the way children are being delivered: Cesarean section delivery may reduce the risk to offspring, while at the same time increasing the maternal risk to flare her condition.

For more information on Dr. Gleicher's research see Scientific Publications.

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Last Updated: November 15, 2014

Additional Resources

Signs of Immunological Infertility What are the signs of immunological infertility and immune-related pregnancy loss? Diagnostic challenges of immune-related infertility Pleas...


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1/3 of women who have been told they need egg donation actually wind up conceiving at the CHR with their own eggs.