Pregnancy still achievable in women with lupus – Experts

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Medical experts have revealed that pregnancy was still achievable in women with lupus, a chronic, autoimmune disease that affects more women than men.

This was disclosed at a panel discussion at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), in recognition of the 5th annual World Lupus Day celebration hosted by The Labalaba Foundation, an NGO.

The panel session, titled “Sexual Health in Lupus”, featured Dr. Joseph Olamijulo, a consultant gynecologist at LUTH, who said that lupus was predominantly common in women.

Olamijulo said that women in their reproductive years suffered more from lupus.

The consultant gynecologist said that pregnancy was achievable in lupus but it was a high risk pregnancy.

He said that health should be optimised and such patients should be assigned to a specialist and booked for antenatal clinics as soon as possible.

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He said that babies born to women with lupus would not necessarily have the illness because it was not genetic.

Also, a Senior Registrar in Rheumatology, Dr Etse Igebu on the panel, also said that lupus affected women in their reproductive years between 25 to 45 years.

She said that the next question that came to the mind of such women was the possibility of getting married.

She said that women also complained of vaginal dryness and pain during sexual intercourse while some of them were depressed and others lost their self-esteem.

She said they could get married, that medical experts would always encourage them to use lubrication and take their medications accurately and build up their self-esteem.

She said that the mode of delivery for lupus patients could be by normal delivery or via a cesarean operation.

“We support them the best way that we can. We have patients that were diagnosed with lupus at the age of 13 and they are happily married. Lupus does not curb sexual life and does not disturb being married,” she said.

Dr. Kehinde Shodimu, a consultant psychiatrist, LUTH, said that lupus affected practically all organs of the body due to the systemic nature of the illness.

Shodimu said that patients were prone to depression and could have a bit of low self-esteem or confidence.

She said that psychiatrists do supportive psychotherapy for lupus patients who come in from time to time.

She said that due to stigma, a lot of people didn’t would not attend hospitals.

The psychiatrist encouraged lupus patients to focus on positivity, self-love and lifestyle modification.

DA Deputy Director, Medical Social Services, LUTH, Titi Tade, said that lupus was more common than was earlier reported. “Studies have shown that it is found among women in Nigeria.”

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“When a patient gets the first sign of lupus and has been treating malaria without being healed, they turn it to be a spiritual problem.”

The deputy director said that most patients were diagnosed when married and the pains and feelings that came with it made sexual intercourse difficult.

Earlier, Dr. Ayesha Akinkugbe, Consultant Dermatologist and Physician, LUTH, said the mission of The Labalaba Foundation was to create awareness about lupus and ensure that quality of life was improved for the patients.