Objective: To review the current evidence regarding the relationship between systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and antiphospholipid syndrome and female infertility, as well as the risks associated with ovarian stimulation for ovulation induction and IVF. To establish, based on this information, guidelines for safe and successful assisted reproductive technology (ART).
Design: A MEDLINE computer search was performed to identify relevant articles.
Result(s): Systemic lupus erythematosus and antiphospholipid syndrome are not related to infertility, except for cases of amenorrhea accompanying severe flares, renal insufficiency-related hypofertility, and ovarian failure secondary to cyclophosphamide (CTX) therapy. The most threatening conditions in affected women undergoing ovarian stimulation are lupus flares and thrombosis, with the latter being especially associated with the occurrence of an overt ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Friendly ovarian stimulation, single embryo transfer, avoidance of OHSS, administration of coadjuvant therapy, and use of natural E(2) or P through a nonoral route may constitute the safest approach. Systemic lupus manifested in acute flares, badly controlled arterial hypertension, pulmonary hypertension, advanced renal disease, severe valvulopathy or heart disease, and major previous thrombotic events are situations on which to discourage ART, especially due to the high risk of complications for both mother and fetus during pregnancy and puerperium.
Conclusion(s): Ovarian stimulation for ovulation induction and IVF seems to be safe and successful in well-selected women with SLE and antiphospholipid syndrome.