Does Pregnancy Delay MS Onset?

Now, I know a good deal about the disease multiple sclerosis (MS). I know even…

Does Pregnancy Delay MS Onset?

Now, I know a good deal about the disease multiple sclerosis (MS). I know even more about how the disease affects my body and my life. But there are more than a few aspects of living with MS that are nearly foreign to me. As you might expect, they have to do with specific aspects of MS as they relate to women, exclusively.

MS and menopause, for example.

In a blog post on the topic way back in 2010, I even had to catch myself from using the word “symptoms” for the physical manifestations of menopause. I would not have earned many female friends in referring to a natural part of life of women as a “symptom.”

Another obvious gap in my intimate knowledge of life with our shared disease has to do with pregnancy. Here I’m at a double disadvantage. I am neither a woman, nor am I a father. I have never been a part of a couple experiencing that aspect of life, let alone the effects that MS might have on it.

I may not know, but I do study.

RELATED: How to Plan for Pregnancy With Multiple Sclerosis

Study Examines the Timing of Pregnancy and First MS Symptoms

In poking around the most recent issue of JAMA Neurology, I found a study about pregnancy and MS. Specifically how pregnancy may delay the onset of MS by as much as three years.

Researchers used MSBase, an international online registry uploaded with the medical history of more than 70,000 people with MS, to study the experience of over 2,500 women with MS — nearly 1,200 of them having had at least one pregnancy.

They found that those women who had been pregnant reported their first MS-like episodes of clinically isolated syndrome (CSI) an average of three years later in life than the women in the database who had not had a pregnancy (more than one pregnancy did not result in additional delay).

It’s long been known that many women who have MS before pregnancy experience fewer MS relapses during pregnancy, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS).

Past studies have also found that women with MS have a higher chance of having a relapse in the three to six months after giving birth. But some newer research, published on May 5, 2020, in the journal Neurology, found no increased rate of relapse after childbirth, and additionally found evidence that exclusive breastfeeding reduced the risk of relapse in the six months after giving birth.

Researchers say this latest study underpins the need for more research into the influence of sex hormones, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and other sex-specific factors on the risk of developing multiple sclerosis.

Eager to Learn, Eager to Share

So I learned a little more about an aspect of multiple sclerosis that has no bearing on my disease at all. But I wanted to share it because I’m in the minority as a man living with MS. More people with this disease need to know about these aspects of it than don’t.

Wishing you and your family the best of health.



My book, Chef Interrupted, is available on Amazon. Follow me on the Life With MS Facebook page and on Twitter, and read more on Life With Multiple Sclerosis.