Being a woman definitely has its wonderments, bearing a child being one of the greatest, but there are about 364 things hard about pregnancy (OK, I may be exaggerating by a few things). The good news for women who suffer from the following conditions or diseases, is that pregnancy has been shown to help ease symptoms in some cases -- from things as minor as hair loss to as major as breast cancer.
Multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues, can be hard to diagnose because people get such a different array of symptoms: blurry vision, numbness or tingling in the face, arms, legs and fingers, bladder or bowel problems, dizziness, extreme fatigue, muscle spasms, speech and thinking problems, tremors and more. And whichever symptoms someone who has MS may suffer from, it can get worse over time.
According to to the National MS Society, women are two-to-three times more likely to get MS than men. While that is unfortunate news for women, we have something that men do not: Pregnancy.
Women are especially likely to feel better and experience fewer relapses during the second and third trimester of pregnancy. Some even see their symptoms disappear entirely.
It has been speculated as to why this occurs, but some researchers believe it has to do with the level of hormones, which appears to have a protective effect.
Let's start with the good news: As with MS, pregnancy seems to ease symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis for some women. And also like MS, RA is an autoimmune disease and it attacks the joints, resulting in swelling and pain.
A 2008 study showed that as many as 75-to-90 percent of women with RA go into remission while pregnant.
One theory is that the baby’s immune system may actually change the mother’s immune response. Pretty cool, huh?
The bad news, however, is that those who suffer on a regular basis will want to soak up every minute of pregnancy, because flare-ups often return after the baby is born.
A study shows more than 50 percent of pregnant women reported an improvement to their psoriasis, according to WebMD.
The chronic skin condition produces thickened, scaling skin and can diminish the quality of life for some patients.
"Many women with psoriasis get better in pregnancy," said Jerry Bagel, dermatologist and spokesperson for the National Psoriasis Foundation. "The specific causes haven't been nailed down yet, but it's likely due to the steroid-like nature of some of the pregnancy hormones."
Researchers in the study said their findings indicated increased estrogen levels, especially those relative to progesterone, seem to be the correlation in the improvement.
I am not here to say that pregnancy can cure cancer, but research has shown that women who have had a full-term pregnancy before the age of 30 seem to be better protected against breast cancer.
Breastcancer.org says a woman’s pregnancy makes the breast cells completely mature and grow in a more regular way, making them less likely to get breast cancer.
Before women get to the third trimester, when many feel huge and tired, they will often have an increased sex drive.
According to Healthline, pregnancy comes with extra blood flow to the genital area, creating hypersensitivity and heightening pleasure. A boost in pregnancy sex can also speed up postpartum recovery.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, a whopping 50-to-80 percent of pregnant women who suffer from migraines experience a reduction in attacks.
Rising estrogen levels are believed to be the culprit in reducing the frequency and intensity of migraines, so much so, that hormone replacement therapy that mimics the pregnancy effects on the body is starting to be used more for treatment of migraines — especially for women who get them around the time of menstruation.
Unfortunately, a reduction in migraines during pregnancy may not be the case for all women who suffer from migraines, and doctors generally advise women who are pregnant to avoid medications. Click here for some home remedies.
This is one that most women who have already been pregnant know — pregnancy can change the texture and growth of hair during pregnancy, giving us full, luxurious hair.
A common misconception is that pregnancy makes you grow more hair, but the American Pregnancy Association says what’s really happening is that the increased level of estrogen makes you lose hair more slowly and for the current hair to grow more quickly.
The downfall? It also increases the growth rate on other parts of your body. Women who are pregnant should be careful of how they treat the unwanted hair on their body and face — bleaching can be absorbed into the bloodstream, while waxing, shaving and plucking are safe.