ISSN 2147-9720 | E-ISSN 2148-4279
1 Department of Rheumatology, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Nigeria  
2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State, Nigeria  
3 Department of Rheumatology, Kubwa General Hospital, Abuja, Nigeria  
4 Department of Family Medicine, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital, Ogbomoso, Nigeria  
5 Department of Medicine, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital, Ogbomoso, Nigeria  
6 Department of Medicine, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Nigeria  
Eur J Rheumatol ; : -


Objective: Contrary to the old belief that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is rare in sub-Saharan Africa, recent reports have increasingly recognized that the burden of the disease has probably been long under-appreciated in West Africa. Thus, fertility and other attributes of the reproductive lives among women with RA have not received research attention in Africa. We aimed to compare the fertility between married Nigerian women with and without RA.

: A comparative study of 50 women with RA and 50 women without RA was conducted via the specialist rheumatology clinics at two teaching hospitals in Nigeria. The participants were aged 18 years or older. Patients with RA were recruited on the basis of the fulfillment of the 1987 American College of Rheumatology classification criteria for RA, whereas the control participants were age-matched to the patients. Using an interviewer-administered questionnaire, demographic and clinical information was collected from each participant. Clinical details at the time of diagnosis of RA were extracted from the hospital records of the patients. The patients were tested for rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody, and the disease activity was assessed using the Clinical Disease Activity Index. The functional status was determined using the Steinbrocker functional classification. Statistical analysis was performed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 20 (IBM Corp.; Armonk, NY, USA). The proportions of individuals with history of infertility, irregular menstruation, and menopausal states were compared between the two groups using χ2 and Fisher’s exact tests, whereas the durations of infertility and parities were compared using Mann-Whitney U and independent t-tests, respectively.

: A positive history of infertility was found in 22 (44%) patients and 14 (28%) controls (p=0.096), while 17 (34%) patients and 23 (46%) controls were found to be postmenopausal (p=0.221). History of irregular menstruation was present in 15 (30%) patients and 4 (8%) controls (p=0.005). The median duration of infertility was 60 (range: 16-132) months among the patients and 36 (range: 12-72) months among the controls (p=0.036), while the mean parity was 2.85±1.8 among the patients and 3.77±2.2 among the controls (p=0.027). A significant association was found between infertility and functional class as well as methotrexate treatment.

: Infertility is not uncommon among patients with RA, and like many aspects of rheumatic diseases, it may have been under-recognized in the Nigerian patients. 


Cite this article as
: Akintayo RO, Aworinde OO, Ojo O, Akintayo FC, Akinlade OM, Awodun RO, et al. Is rheumatoid arthritis an innocent bystander in female reproductive problems? A comparative study of fertility in Nigerian women with and without rheumatoid arthritis. Eur J Rheumatol DOI: 10.5152/eurjrheum.2018.17180

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