Objective: To study the effect of chronic disease of childhood on aspects of reproduction in young adults with a history of juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA).
Methods: Demographic data, clinical features of JCA, previous medical treatment, reproductive events, contraception, wish for children, sexuality, and gynecological disease were evaluated by means of a questionnaire in 126 women and 35 men with JCA and their age matched healthy counterparts.
Results: Median age of patients and controls was 24 years. Median age at menarche was 13 years in female patients and controls. Female patients who shared characteristics of marital status with their healthy counterparts showed a similar attitude to sexual activity, contraception, wish for children, age at first child, and duration of lactation. Fertility was not impaired in JCA, but fecundity was significantly reduced. Also, pregnancy outcome was less successful in women with JCA, shown by a significantly increased rate of miscarriage. When analyzing the occurrence of gynecological disease, a higher proportion of patients had metrorrhagia, pelvic inflammatory disease, and surgery for ovarian cysts. Males with JCA had greater difficulties than both healthy males and female patients in establishing a permanent relationship to the opposite sex.
Conclusion: Our study shows that a history of JCA in young men and women can influence several aspects of reproductive behavior and health. Health care providers counseling adolescents with JCA need to be aware of these problems.