Can MS Stop Your Periods?
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, progressive autoimmune disorder involving the central nervous system. It leads to demyelination of nerves (in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves), exposing them that causes aberrant nerve impulse conduction.
Can MS Stop Your Periods?
Although, MS does not stop periods, it has quite a few effects on menstrual periods and the effect of estrogen on MS. Observations have shown that the progression of MS is favorable at the time of pregnancy. Studies have shown that there are reduced relapses in pregnancy, especially during the third trimester. This has been studied in relapsing remitting type MS. The favorable effect on the relapse of MS could be attributed to the increased level of estrogen during the last trimester. As we know that relapsing remitting MS progresses to secondary progressive MS in time. However, a full term pregnancy may actually delay the disability and the chances of progression to secondary progressive MS.
The effect of MS on menstruating women is different. The fluctuation of hormones in women during menstrual cycle has been noted. There are worsening of pre-menstrual symptoms occurring a week before the menstrual cycle. Some women with relapsing remitting type of MS have noted exacerbations or worsening of neurologic symptoms during menstruation phase. Recent studies have also shown that the number of lesions on MRI correspond directly to the hormones of menstrual cycle.
It is still unclear why the symptoms of MS fluctuate with menstrual cycle, although, evidence suggests a complex relation between endocrine and immune system. The symptoms of MS, which include fatigue, weakness, balance and depression, tend to get worse prior to the onset of menstrual cycle. This could also be attributed to an increase in core body temperature before and during period, which may worsen the MS symptoms. If it is difficult to deal with the worsening PMS symptoms in MS patients, contraceptive pills or IUDs can be used to minimize these.
Worsening of MS symptoms has also been noted during post partum period. This could be attributed to the decline in estrogen level in this period.
Menopause is also characterized by low estrogen levels and in menopausal females also the severity of neurologic symptoms increases in MS patients. Some menopausal women have benefited from hormone replacement therapy, which consists of estrogen and shown improvement in MS symptoms. However, the risk of HRT outweigh the benefits provided by them, so they should be used with caution and only in selected cases after an okay by MS healthcare professional.
Causes Of MS
The exact cause of MS is still unknown. It is considered an autoimmune disease, which leads to inflammation along with plaques and lesions that help diagnose the disease on an MRI. The inflammation and lesions on nerve sheaths cause disruption in the conduction of impulses. The inflamed lesions lead to scarring of myelin sheath, known as sclerosis. As they occur in various portions of the nerves throughout the body, they are known as multiple sclerosis.
The exact cause of antibodies attacking the nerve sheath is unknown and is considered as a result of combination of various risk factors.
Lack Of Sunlight. MS is more commonly seen in people who live away from equator and this could directly correspond to lack of sunlight in individuals living farther from equator
Female. MS is 2-3 times more common in females than in males and the reason for this is also unknown
Genes. Although, it is not a directly inherited disease, first-degree relatives are more likely and at a greater risk than normal population to get the disease (the risk increases to about 2-5%)
Infections. It is postulated that Epstein Barr virus may be responsible for triggering auto-antibodies leading to MS
Smoking. The chance of MS increases about two fold in individuals who smoke compared to those who do not smoke
Although, it has been known to occur due to interplay between the autoimmune, environmental and genetic factors; hormonal factors are also suggested to affect MS according to recent studies.
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