Let’s Talk Women’s Health in Rheumatic Diseases
In this Rheumatology Advisor podcast, HSS rheumatologist Lisa R. Sammaritano, MD discussed the rationale for developing the published guidelines by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) on the management of reproductive health in women with rheumatic diseases, and key takeaways for clinicians.
Dr. Sammaritano explained it [the guidelines] provides an intersection in two fields of medicine, and in some ways education to rheumatologists, unlike other guidelines that focus on one specific area within rheumatology itself. “As our patients get healthier, they are able to consider things they weren’t able to consider in the past. And that is planning out their family life - deciding when and if they want to have children. And even when and if they wanted to pursue reproductive health technology (such as IVF and egg freezing), all of these things have become much more common in recent years. And available to greater numbers of women, including our patients.” She added, “I think it was a combination of better health and more information and a better ability to stratify patients who are at greatest risk and identify patients for who these things really do not pose such a tremendous risk where they could not pursue them. And that is a majority of our patients.”
Dr. Sammaritano cited, “One of the most important points that we hope to make is that rheumatologists should communicate with their patients about this aspect of health. It is an important aspect of health in addition to their rheumatology disorder. Many rheumatologist feel that they are not educated in this area, and so especially with their focus on challenging (and sometimes serious rheumatology illnesses), may forget to talk about this with their patients. But there are a lot of reasons that we should communicate with our patients about this early on. We know that pregnancy in rheumatic disease patients can place particular risks on the patient. We firmly believe for our patients (more than the general population), pregnancy should be planned. The patient should be assessed ahead of time when possible so that we can identify what if any factors can impact both the success of the pregnancy and the safety of the pregnancy for that patient.”
Listen to podcast at Rheumatologyadvisor.com.