Does systemic lupus erythematosus affect fertility and/or pregnancy?

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SLE does not usually cause infertility, but it can make becoming and being pregnant more difficult. Most studies find pregnant women with SLE have a two- to fourfold increased rate of complications, both during pregnancy and during/after delivery. Pregnancy complications include preeclampsia, eclampsia (pregnancy-related seizures), blood clots, fetal growth restriction, premature rupture of membranes (“water” breaks early), and preterm labor; complications during/after delivery include unplanned cesarean delivery, postpartum hemorrhage, and increased maternal mortality rate. People with SLE who also have active lupus nephritis, antiphospholipid antibodies, and/or anti-Ro and anti-La antibodies are at an even higher risk for pregnancy and fetal complications.[1]

Despite these risks, people with SLE can and do have successful pregnancies that end in the delivery of a healthy baby. This is often achieved through careful family planning (i.e., trying to conceive when symptoms are in remission) and working alongside a multidisciplinary team for ongoing support and monitoring.[2][3]