Sambhavna Seth recently opened up about her struggle with failed IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) cycles and how the procedure further triggered rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune condition she suffered from in the past. In a video on her YouTube channel, which has clocked 16 lakh views, the actor and TV personality said she has been experiencing pain in the joints, along with swelling and stiffness, in the mornings.
Seth, who breaks down in the video, also shared how she was body-shamed for putting on weight as a result of having “so many medicines every day”. Her husband, actor and writer Avinash Dwivedi, said how watching her go through the process, repeatedly, made him feel “helpless“. “Her body goes through so many changes as well as mood shifts. Her normal life goes for a toss in that one month (of the IVF cycle). But she is determined to try it again and again,” he expressed.
According to a 2019-study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, women affected with RA were found 22 per cent less likely to get pregnant compared to other women following assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment. This meant their chances were at rates of 18.1 per cent versus 23.7 per cent of those who didn’t have the condition.
Over a period of 23.5 years, the study included data for 354 women with RA who underwent 1149 ART treatments and 66,913 women without RA who underwent 198,941 ART (assisted reproductive treatments) in Denmark.
Here’s what you need to know about the condition
Female rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients typically experience subfertility, which has been linked to the presence of the illness and the use of antirheumatic medications, said Dr Kshitiz Murdia, CEO and co-founder, Indira IVF.
“Subfertility in such individuals can be linked to an imbalance of the female hormones, especially oestrogen, hence, declining ovarian function. The pain, fatigue and medication side effects can indeed make conception complex for some RA patients compared to their healthy counterparts. Although there is a small chance of miscarriage or low birth weight in certain RA patients, the great majority of pregnancies are uncomplicated and usual,” Dr Murdia told indianexpress.com.
Another reason could also be attributed to stress and anxiety acting as a trigger. “Women undergoing IVF treatment are usually under stress and anxiety. Those who are already suffering from pre-existing health issues such as RA may show exacerbation of the symptoms. Hence, it is important for women to seek help to cope with stress and anxiety while undergoing IVF,” said Dr Gowri Kulkarni, Head of Operations, MediBuddy.
Prevention and awareness
Dr Murdia asserted that it is important to seek medical opinions prior to opting for IVF treatment. “Prior to choosing IVF, individuals suffering from RA are advised to visit both orthopedic and infertility treatment doctors for advice on how to increase the likelihood of conception without harming one’s health,” Dr Murdia said.