Autoimmunity, infertility and assisted reproductive technologies
Reproductive Techniques, Assisted
Despite strongly held opinions, a trustworthy scientific basis for most statements about autoimmunity, autoimmune diseases and assisted reproductive technologies (ART) does not exist. It is not likely that autoimmunity causes infertility, nor that patients with autoimmune diseases are unusually infertile. When carefully monitored in selected patients, ART does not appear to harm patients who have pre-existing autoimmune diseases, but the ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and multiple gestation pregnancies impart independent risks. Stable autoimmune diseases without major organ damage probably do not affect the outcomes of ART pregnancies. Children born of ART pregnancies are apparently normal at birth, whether or not the genetic or birth mother has autoimmune disease, but long-term follow-up is not available. Male fertility is probably not altered by autoimmune disease. Fiscal, ethical and moral issues related to ART in patients with autoimmune diseases are beyond the scope of this discussion but remain important.