MS is most often diagnosed between the ages of 20-40, the age at which many people may be thinking of having a family. For most women, multiple sclerosis does not make any significant difference to their pregnancy. A woman with MS is no more likely to experience miscarriage or birth defects in their baby than a woman who does not have MS.
A woman with MS is less likely to have a relapse during pregnancy, although the risk of relapse increases in the six months after the birth. This is thought to be due to changes in the levels of hormones, particularly oestrogen, during and after pregnancy.
Despite the fluctuation in the relapse rate, research has shown that pregnancy has no adverse effect on multiple sclerosis in the long-term and that it does not hasten or cause disease progression. After the period of higher risk, the number of relapses will remain around the same as it would have been if there had not been a pregnancy. There is not enough data on pregnancy in women with progressive MS to give an accurate indication of its effect on this type of multiple sclerosis.
A number of medications for MS, both disease modifying treatments and those for individual symptoms, are not recommended for use by women during pregnancy or when breastfeeding. Women who are planning a family or who find they are pregnant should discuss their medications with their MS nurse or doctor.
Last updated: 12 August 2014
This page will be reviewed within three years