Pregnancy is a stage many couples dream of, but the timing of starting or continuing a family can be complicated when illness is involved. Minor sicknesses don’t often prevent conception from occurring, but particular infirmities and their treatment can affect whether or not a woman is able to get pregnant.
Disorders Causing Subfertility
Some disorders can prevent or hamper a woman’s ability to conceive. Hormonal imbalances such as polycystic ovary syndrome and hypothyroidism which result in menstrual cycle irregularities are common culprits. Autoimmune diseases like lupus, type 1 diabetes and celiac disease can also negatively impact one’s ability to get pregnancy because the body wrongly attacks sperm and egg cells preventing conception. Medications taken to treat certain conditions can cause temporary infertility. Examples are antipsychotics, spironolactone (Aldactone) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and aspirin when taken long-term.
Generally, minor illnesses such as the common cold or influenza do not directly affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant. Physical and mental stress which often accompany sickness can disrupt when a woman ovulates and not feeling “in the mood” as a result of being under the weather can influence her chances of getting pregnant, though. Antibiotics, medication regularly given to treat bacterial illnesses, can lead to oral contraceptive failure which can result in unplanned pregnancy.
Some chronic illnesses which affect a woman’s ability to maintain a health pregnancy may also affect her ability to get pregnant in the first place. As a result of the disease, itself, or its treatment, disorders such as cystic fibrosis, cancer, and kidney failure can interfere with conception. Physical and cognitive disorders once thought to overly complicate pregnancy, such as depression and cerebral palsy (see ref 2, p. 593), are often manageable to the point that healthy pregnancy is achievable. Talk to your doctor to decide if pregnancy is a safe and viable option based on your individual health.
- Maternal & Child Health Nursing: Care of the Childbearing & Childrearing Family, Seventh Edition; Adele Pilliterri, PhD, RN, PNP
- Human Reproduction: Definition and Prevalence of Subfertility and Infertility
- Human Reproduction: A Meta-Analysis of Pregnancy Outcomes in Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome