Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms and Pregnancy

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks a substance known as myelin – the protective covering of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

The exact cause of MS is currently unknown, however, it is thought to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and nutritional factors that play a role in its development.

To learn more about this condition and evidence-based remedies, read my article Multiple Sclerosis – Evidence-Based Remedies.

MS and Pregnancy

In various studies, pregnancy has been observed to temporarily improve symptoms in some women with MS. However, it tends to relapse after.

How does Pregnancy reduce symptoms of MS

While the exact mechanisms are currently unknown, one theory is that the increased levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy may suppress the immune system, reducing the amount of inflammation and damage to myelin. Additionally, the placenta produces hormones that can also suppress the immune system, which may also help to reduce symptoms.

During pregnancy, the body’s immune system undergoes a series of significant changes for the purpose of preventing the developing fetus from being rejected by the mother’s body. These changes are thought to occur due to hormonal changes in the body along with the presence of the placenta – an organ that develops during pregnancy and connects the mother’s blood supply to that of the fetus in order to provide nutrition.

By altering and suppressing the immune system for the purpose of preventing the rejection of the fetus, the immune response is reduced -> this theoretically, may be the reason why symptoms of autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis may reduce.

One of the key mechanisms by which pregnancy causes immune suppression is through the production of hormones such as progesterone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), human placental lactogen (hPL) and estrogen by the placenta. These hormones can suppress the function of the immune system, which in turn reduces the amount of inflammation.

For example, progesterone and hCG have been shown to suppress the production of vital components of immune response such as inflammatory cytokines along with the activation of T-cells. Coincidentally, multiple sclerosis is hypothesized to be a T-cell mediated autoimmune condition. 

Keep in mind that the exact mechanisms for pregnancy-induced immune suppression are not yet fully understood, and requires further research and investigation to properly understand the underlying processes.

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by Dr. Nishal R.
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