Updated 18 January 2017

Arthritis and pregnancy

Arthritis can present or develop in people of any age, and many women who have arthritis may be able to have a baby without any real problems.


One exception is certain forms of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Some arthritis medication can temporarily reduce the ability to conceive, or can lower the sperm count. Some drugs can also make the contraceptive pill less effective. Some arthritis treatment may place the baby at risk of birth defects and it is best to talk to your doctor if you’re planning to have a baby.

Pregnancy is hard on the back, hips and knees because of the extra weight carried. How much this affects you will determine what type of arthritis you have. Some women with rheumatoid arthritis find that their arthritis symptoms improve during pregnancy.

Labour and childbirth require movement of the back and hips, which can aggravate arthritic joints in this part of the body. Talk to your midwife or obstetrician before labour. Consider water birth, which will take much of the weight off your back and legs. Some women with serious hip disease may require elective caesarean section.

Read more:

Do you suffer from knee osteoarthritis?

7 everyday things that could be damaging your joints


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Professor Asgar Ali Kalla completed his MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 1975 at the University of Cape Town and his FRCP in 2003 in London. Professor Ali Kalla is the Isaac Albow Chair of Rheumatology at the University of Cape Town and also the Head of Division of Rheumatology at Groote Schuur Hospital. He has participated in a number of clinical trials for rheumatology and is active in community outreach. Prof Ali Kalla is an expert in Arthritis for Health24.

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