If you’re wondering if you can have a baby after a diagnosis of IC, take heart! Thousands of IC patients have had successful pregnancies and children. One of the best parts of my job is being able to encourage and help interstitial cystitis and bladder pain patients (IC/BPS) who want to start a family. IC does not change your heart, your soul and, most certainly, your ability to love a child. In fact, I think that IC patients make great mothers and fathers because you are compassionate, kind, caring and would never turn away from someone in pain. But it does take work, planning, time and patience. And, ultimately, you do have to assess your IC and work closely with your care providers. I hope that you join the hundreds if not thousands of IC patients who have had successful and joyful families! Be strong! You can do this. – Jill O.
IC and Pregnancy
If you’re wondering how IC will impact your pregnancy, take heart. IC patients have successful pregnancies and children every month. IC patient Lesa F, documented her pregnancy in an on-line pregnancy journal to share with you her struggles and successes including the birth of her beautiful daughter Kaitlyn. Read it now!
Very little research has been done studying pregnancy and interstitial cystitis. The one unpublished study available was conducted by the Interstitial Cystitis Association in 1989. It gathered information from 48 IC patients who experienced 78 pregnancies and provided valuable baseline information. Conception, for example, appears to be normal in IC patients. Infertility doesn’t appear to affect most IC patients, though the pain often associated with intimate relations can be a barrier.
The most common question is “Will my IC get worse during a pregnancy?” In our experience, some IC patients go into remission or experience a decrease of their symptoms during their pregnancy. Other patients report that their symptoms worsen slightly as the pregnancy advances. The ICA data suggests that the symptoms of IC decrease during the first two trimesters and then increase slightly during the third trimester, most likely due to the baby putting pressure on the bladder.
Dr. Robert Moldwin, in the IC Survival Guide, shares that his observations aren’t quite so favorable. He’s seen the majority of his patients experience some degree of bladder worsening throughout the pregnancy which he believes is due to the cessation of oral therapies. He concludes that while pregnancy can be a tough time for patients “most patients make through without any problems.” He also suggests the use of conservative therapies, such as yoga, meditation, relaxation, self-hypnosis, acupuncture, diet and the avoidance of constipation to help reduce IC related discomfort
(ICN user Melanie contributed sections of the the article below which shares some valuable questions that you should explore if you considering becoming pregnant. We’ve adapted and expanded this with what we hope will be useful suggestions. – Feb 2009)
- Step One: Making the decision of a lifetime & Keeping perspective:
- Step Two: Considering Pregnancy
- Step Three: Planning For Pregnancy
- Step Four: Learning When & How to Get Pregnant
- Step Five: Making A Baby
Medication Use During Pregnancy
The use of various IC therapies during pregnancy and their associated risk of causing fetal abnormalities is a complex question that can ONLY be answered after careful consideration, research and discussions with YOUR personal medical care providers. Under no circumstance should you accept another IC patient report that they used a medication “safely” during THEIR pregnancy as justification for you using ANY medications during YOUR pregnancy. Each mother and fetus are unique individuals that will have their own vulnerabilities and drug sensitivities. No patient can guarantee that any medication is safe during pregnancy.
In early 2007, Deborah Erickson, MD and Kathleen Propert, ScD made an astounding contribution to the IC community with their journal article “Pregnancy and IC/PBS” which discusses the use of common IC medications and medical devices during pregnancy and their potential risk of causing fetal abnormalities.
To disclose the potential safety and/or risk of various medications during pregnancy, the US FDA created a classification system based upon research findings for the medication. Clearly studies on humans that show no fetal risk are ideal whereas studies on animals that show that the medication causes fetal abnormalities suggest that the use of that medication during pregnancy should be carefully considered
The FDA classification system is as follows:
- A – Adequate studies on humans have shown no increased risk to the fetus
- B – Animal studies showed no increased risk OR animal studies showed an increased risk but other human studies showed no risk
- C – No adequate human studies exist. Animal studies show an increased risk or have not been done.
- D – Human studies how an increased risk “but the drug can be used if the benefits outweigh the risk”
- X – Definite evidence of fetal abnormality exists. Treatments with this rating should NOT be used during pregnancy.
The article discusses the use of most IC therapies and provides an extensive discussion of pros and cons. Pentosan polysulfate (Elmiron) received the highest rating in the group with a “B.” Amitryptiline, hydroxyzine and DMSO received “C” ratings. Intravesical lidocaine (aka rescue instillations) were discussed in depth with the authors suggesting that the “safest choice would be to instilll non-alkalinized lidocaine” to avoid the issue of systemic absorption and placental transfer. Corticosteroids received a “D” rating if used in the first trimester and a “C”throughout the rest of the pregnancy. These main birth defect seen was cleft lip and/or palate.
The authors further noted that sacral nerve stimulators (aka Interstim) “should not be placed during pregnancy.” Patients with existing stimulators should be aware that Medtronic recommends that the device be turned off for the entire pregnancy “because the effects of sacral nerve stimulation on the fetus are completely unknown.”
Clearly, the most vulnerable time to the fetus is the first trimester. If you are considering pregnancy and are currently using any of the medications above, we strongly encourage you to purchase this article on-line or locate this article in a local medical library.
- Erickson D. MD, Propert K. ScD, “Pregnancy and Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome” Urol Clin N. Amer 34 (2007) p. 61-69
The ICN offers several support forums for patients who are considering pregnancy, currently pregnant and new mothers. We also offer support for couples struggling with infertility and women who would like to have children but haven’t been able to due to, for example, hysterectomy.
As you use our support forum, we want you to remember that every pregnancy is unique. Some patients improve dramatically during their pregnancy and their IC symptoms disappear. Other patients may have more intense symptoms. Our support forums will, obviously, attract patients who are struggling. So, please remember that for every story you read online about patients having a rough time, there are many others having a great time with their pregnancies.<