Objective: This study aimed to determine reproductive practices and attitudes of North Americans diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and the reasons for their reproductive decision making.
Methods: A self-administered questionnaire on reproductive practices was mailed to 13,312 registrants of the North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis (NARCOMS) database who met inclusion criteria for the study. Completed questionnaires were then returned to the authors in an anonymous format for analysis.
Results: Among 5949 participants, the majority of respondents (79.1%) did not become pregnant following diagnosis of MS. Of these, 34.5% cited MS-related reasons for this decision. The most common MS-related reasons were symptoms interfering with parenting (71.2%), followed by concerns of burdening partner (50.7%) and of children inheriting MS (34.7%). The most common reason unrelated to MS for not having children was that they already have a "completed family" (55.6%). Of the 20.9% of participants who decided to become pregnant (or father a pregnancy) following a diagnosis of MS, 49.5% had two or more pregnancies.
Conclusion: This study indicates that an MS diagnosis does not completely deter the consideration of childbearing in MS patients of both genders.