Of 1,000 women diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) in the last five years, 88% were concerned they would not be able to have children, despite studies that show otherwise. This is according to a recent European survey conducted by Teva Pharmaceuticals Europe.
MS is most prevalent amongst women of childbearing age, but they are just as likely to conceive and have healthy children as anyone else. Yet around 880 women surveyed had concerns that they would not be able to have children.
In addition, 62% of women concerned about their ability to have children were also concerned that they might pass the condition onto their children, even though MS is not considered to be hereditary.
The survey also suggests that communications about family planning could be improved between women with RRMS and their healthcare professionals, which could be the reason why these misconceptions persist. More than 1 in 3 (35%) women indicated not having spoken with their neurologist/MS specialist about family planning, and more than half (57%) indicated not having spoken with their general practitioner (GP), despite their concerns.
'A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis can raise questions for a woman with regards to contraception and family planning. We know that for most women with MS, the condition does not increase pregnancy complications in general,' said Elisabeth Kasilingam, Managing Director, European Multiple Sclerosis Platform (EMSP), a pan-European patient advocacy group with a growing network of 40 member societies in 35 European countries. 'Women with MS need access to qualified healthcare professionals, support and quality information. As an advocate for better patient care, EMSP welcomes additional information resources on these issues'.
Access to more and better information was requested by 81% of the women surveyed, so that they could be better informed about their family planning choices. In fact, 4 in 5 (82%) European women with RRMS wish, in retrospect, that they had discussed the following family planning topics earlier, preferably at diagnosis,
• What to expect during pregnancy (33%)
• Symptom dormancy during pregnancy (33%)
• Treatment options while trying to conceive (32%)
• What to expect during delivery (32%)
Teva Pharmaceuticals has teamed up with touchNEUROLOGY to create an ‘MS and Family Planning Toolkit’ for women with MS and health care professionals. The resources were intended to address the misconceptions highlighted and spark deeper dialogue between women with MS and their health care professionals, and include,
• Family planning questions for women with MS to ask their healthcare team
• Facts on MS and family planning for women with MS
• Tips for women on family planning with MS
• Health care professional guide to survey results and patient conversation
The toolkits can be downloaded at http://www.touchneurology.com/familyplanningwithms for women with MS and http://www.touchneurology.com/msfamilyplanningtoolkit for healthcare professionals.