Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

RA and Pregnancy: The Facts About Conceiving

WebMD Feature

If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and are thinking about starting a family, you probably have lots of questions and concerns. Will your RA affect your chances of getting pregnant? Are your medications safe during pregnancy? What if you decide to stop taking them? Will your RA flare?

These are all questions that need to be discussed with your rheumatologist, preferably in advance of becoming pregnant, says Shreyasee Amin, MD, a rheumatologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

RA, an autoimmune disease in which the body engages in friendly fire against its own joints, primarily strikes women of childbearing age. The good news is that unlike other autoimmune diseases, RA does not seem to affect a woman’s fertility or ability to have a healthy pregnancy. Your symptoms may even get better during pregnancy, but they may flare about three months after delivery (right around the time that the sleep deprivation from having a newborn kicks in).

“Unless you have other RA complications such as lung or hip involvement, the RA should not affect your ability to become pregnant, carry the baby to term, and deliver naturally,” Amin says. That said, a little medication counseling goes a long way toward achieving these goals, she says.

Take Stock of Your Medications

“Women with RA need to work with their obstetrician and rheumatologist to make sure they are on safe medications prior to conceiving, and if they are not, they need to change or discontinue their medications based on their disease activity and preferences,” she says.

Some RA medications that pregnant women should not take include methotrexate and Arava (leflunomide). Women must be off these drugs for a period of time before even becoming pregnant. Discuss the safety of other medicines such as prednisone, Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine), sulfasalazine, and Imuran (azathioprine) with your doctor. The jury is out on some of the newer biologic agents such as Enbrel (etanercept), Humira (adalimumab), and Remicade (infliximab), Amin says.

What if you don’t feel comfortable taking medication while you are pregnant? “Some women do wish to discontinue their medication altogether, and I discuss the risk of a potential flare with them, but I also explain that there is a chance that their disease may improve while pregnant,” says Amin. Doctor's don't really know exactly why RA tends to go into remission during pregnancy, but it's common.

That’s not to say you will feel great for your entire pregnancy. But if your back aches or your ankles swell, don’t assume the worst, Amin says. “These symptoms may just be part of a normal pregnancy.”

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

rubbing hands
Avoid these 6 common mistakes.
mature couple exercising
Decrease pain, increase energy.
mature woman threading needle
How much do you know?
Swelling, fatigue, pain, and more.
Lucille Ball
Hand bones X-ray
prescription pills
Woman massaging her neck
woman roasting vegetables in oven
Woman rubbing shoulder
Working out with light weights