Ovulation induction and in vitro fertilization in systemic lupus erythematosus and antiphospholipid syndrome

Arthritis Rheum. 2000 Mar;43(3):550-6. doi: 10.1002/1529-0131(200003)43:3<550::AID-ANR10>3.0.CO;2-Y.


Objective: During ovulation induction (OI), ovarian stimulation is accomplished by hormonal manipulation, which includes administration of gonadotropins, gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone. In in vitro fertilization (IVF), progesterone is often added. Because of the possibility of hormone-associated flare or thrombosis, patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and primary antiphospholipid syndrome (primary APS) undergoing OI/IVF are potentially at increased risk. The present study was conducted in order to assess this risk.

Methods: Nineteen women who underwent 68 cycles of OI/IVF were studied by interview and retrospective chart review.

Results: Four OI/IVF cycles (25%) in SLE patients resulted in increased lupus activity and 2 (13%) in ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. One patient with primary APS who was given heparin during multiple cycles developed osteopenia. No thrombosis occurred. Pregnancy complications included toxemia, lupus flare, gastrointestinal hemorrhage due to Mallory-Weiss tear, polygestation, and diabetes. Postpartum complications included nephritis flare, costochondritis, and suicidal depression. Lupus flares occurred at expected rates. Five of 16 cycles (31%) in 7 SLE patients, 5 of 48 cycles (10%) in 10 primary APS patients, and 0 of 5 cycles in 2 women with antiphospholipid antibody (without SLE or primary APS) resulted in liveborn children, including multiple gestations (3 twin sets with 4 surviving infants and 2 triplet sets with 3 surviving infants). Seven of 14 living children (50%) were premature, 3 had neonatal lupus, and 1 had pulmonic stenosis. Five surviving infants (38%) had complications unrelated to prematurity.

Conclusion: Although OI/IVF can be successful in SLE and primary APS patients, rates of fetal and maternal complications are high.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome / complications*
  • Antiphospholipid Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro*
  • Fetal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / complications*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / physiopathology*
  • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome / etiology
  • Ovulation Induction*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / immunology
  • Puerperal Disorders / complications
  • Retrospective Studies