Pregnancy with Psoriatic Arthritis: The Importance of Early Diagnosis
Last updated: October 2023
An early diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is pivotal in managing the condition effectively. Unfortunately, my own diagnosis came later than I had hoped, and it made me ponder how things might have been different had I known about my condition before starting a family.
What early PsA signs did I miss during my pregnancy?
At the age of 21, I welcomed my first child into the world. Reflecting on those days, I now recognize that many of the subtle symptoms of psoriatic arthritis were already present, though they hadn't yet disrupted my daily life. My pregnancy was relatively easy; I felt great despite working more than 40 hours a week on my feet. The only hiccup was a cesarean section, as my cervix refused to dilate.
How did a delayed diagnosis impact me?
Fast forward to my second pregnancy at the age of 33, which unfolded between my diagnoses of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Just a few months prior to conceiving, I had received my psoriasis diagnosis. Unbeknownst to me, psoriatic disease had been silently complicating my life. Fatigue and sporadic, shifting joint pain had started interfering with my daily activities. Simultaneously, I was battling endometriosis, which added another layer of complexity to our journey to parenthood. After a year and a half of trying, we succeeded in conceiving only after we had almost given up hope.
How was my second pregnancy different?
This second pregnancy was notably different. Fatigue weighed me down; I napped incessantly, retired to bed early, and frequently overslept. Joint pain became more conspicuous, although it primarily affected areas one would expect to be strained during pregnancy. Both symptoms were attributed to the pregnancy itself.
What changed postpartum?
But then came an unexpected twist. After giving birth to my second child, I was filled with an incredible surge of energy, like the Energizer Bunny. I felt invincible! For an entire year, I exercised, shed pounds, and believed I could conquer the world. Then, abruptly, the relentless pain of PsA surfaced.
What if I knew I had psoriatic arthritis earlier?
I often contemplate the choices I might have made if I had been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis before having children. Would I have timed their births differently? Would I have stopped expanding my family before I reached the age of 30 when my body began to show signs of wear and tear? Or would the condition have had no bearing on my decisions?
Why is an early diagnosis so important?
While I can't rewrite my own history, I can emphasize the critical importance of early diagnosis in psoriatic arthritis. This condition is more than just skin rashes and joint pain; its implications extend far beyond treatment decisions. I received my diagnosis at 35, but I had mentioned my symptoms to doctors as far back as high school. Regrettably, they were dismissed as mere growing pains. Doctors must heed mild PsA symptoms and act before they escalate into something severe.
Your experiences can shed light on the significance of early diagnosis and its impact on family planning decisions. How did your PsA diagnosis affect your family planning? Were you aware of or diagnosed with PsA before having children?
Do you have any questions about PsA?