Researchers at the Institute for Neurological Research in Buenos Aires report a clear and significant connection between multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms and assisted reproductive technology (ART). According to the study, neurologists should be aware that ART may cause an increase in symptoms, including those causing physical manifestations in the brain.

A total of 16 patients with recurring MS were included in the study. Twenty-six ART treatment cycles were completed. Blood work and diagnostic tools were used starting a year before the first cycle and nine months after the final cycle of ART. GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone) was used in all 26 cycles.

Conclusion: After testing was complete, the risk of increased or flare-up of MS symptoms were seven times more likely in patients receiving ART. Patients also showed a nine-fold increase in physical manifestations of the disease in brain MRI scans. The worsening conditions are likely associated with GnRH and other reproductive hormones, which are known to promote MS activity. Before seeking ART, women with MS should talk with their physician about the possible health implications of fertility treatment.

Source: Correale J, Farez MF, Ysrraelit MC. Increase in multiple sclerosis activity after assisted reproduction technology. Ann Neurol. 2012 Oct 3. doi: 10.1002/ana.23745.