EULAR recommendations for women's health and the management of family planning, assisted reproduction, pregnancy and menopause in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and/or antiphospholipid syndrome

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Abstract

Objectives

Develop recommendations for women's health issues and family planning in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and/or antiphospholipid syndrome (APS).

Methods

Systematic review of evidence followed by modified Delphi method to compile questions, elicit expert opinions and reach consensus.

Results

Family planning should be discussed as early as possible after diagnosis. Most women can have successful pregnancies and measures can be taken to reduce the risks of adverse maternal or fetal outcomes. Risk stratification includes disease activity, autoantibody profile, previous vascular and pregnancy morbidity, hypertension and the use of drugs (emphasis on benefits from hydroxychloroquine and antiplatelets/anticoagulants). Hormonal contraception and menopause replacement therapy can be used in patients with stable/inactive disease and low risk of thrombosis. Fertility preservation with gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues should be considered prior to the use of alkylating agents. Assisted reproduction techniques can be safely used in patients with stable/inactive disease; patients with positive antiphospholipid antibodies/APS should receive anticoagulation and/or low-dose aspirin. Assessment of disease activity, renal function and serological markers is important for diagnosing disease flares and monitoring for obstetrical adverse outcomes. Fetal monitoring includes Doppler ultrasonography and fetal biometry, particularly in the third trimester, to screen for placental insufficiency and small for gestational age fetuses. Screening for gynaecological malignancies is similar to the general population, with increased vigilance for cervical premalignant lesions if exposed to immunosuppressive drugs. Human papillomavirus immunisation can be used in women with stable/inactive disease.

Conclusions

Recommendations for women's health issues in SLE and/or APS were developed using an evidence-based approach followed by expert consensus.

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