Pregnancy, sex and hormonal factors in multiple sclerosis

Mult Scler. 2014 Apr;20(5):527-36. doi: 10.1177/1352458513519840. Epub 2014 Jan 20.


Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is influenced by pregnancy, sex and hormonal factors.

Objectives: A comprehensive understanding of the role of pregnancy, sex and hormonal factors can provide insights into disease mechanisms, and new therapeutic developments and can provide improved patient care and treatment.

Methods: Based on an international conference of experts and a comprehensive PubMed search for publications on these areas in MS, we provide a review of what is known about the impact of these factors on disease demographics, etiology, pathophysiology and clinical course and outcomes.

Results and conclusions: Recommendations are provided for counseling and management of people with MS before conception, during pregnancy and after delivery. The use of disease-modifying and symptomatic therapies in pregnancy is problematic and such treatments are normally discontinued. Available knowledge about the impact of treatment on the mother, fetus and newborn is discussed. Recommendations for future research to fill knowledge gaps and clarify inconsistencies in available data are made.

Keywords: Pregnancy; hormones; sex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / metabolism
  • Multiple Sclerosis / therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Complications / metabolism
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones