Document Type: Original article
Department of Reproductive Health, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran;
Ministery of Health and Medical Education, Tehran, Iran
Department of Nursing Management, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran;
Department of Psychology, Shahed University, Tehran, Iran;
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Royan Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Technology, Royan Institute, Tehran, Iran
Background: There is a high prevalence of multiple sclerosis (MS) among Iranian women of
reproductive age. However, very few studies have been conducted in Iran to assess the experiences with and concerns about pregnancy and motherhood of such patients. The present study was conducted to better understand the experiences and concerns of women with MS about pregnancy and motherhood.
Methods: The present qualitative study was conducted from August 2016 to January 2017 among Iranian women with MS visiting the Iran MS Society in Tehran, Iran. The purposive sampling method was used to recruit the participants and the sampling was continued until data saturation. Based on the inclusion criteria, a total of 25 women with MS were recruited in the study. The data were collected by in-depth semi-structured face-to-face interviews and analyzed using the MAXQDA 10 software.
Results: The analysis of the interview data resulted in four main categories, namely “Pregnancy concerns”, “Fear of failing as a parent”, “Feeling of threatened fertility”, and “Lack of social support”.
The results showed that Iranian women with MS avoided pregnancy due to the negative effects of the disease on their physical abilities and on life in general. They were also concerned about possible
infertility, the effect of MS medications on their menstrual cycle, and the limitations of infertility
treatments due to the presence of MS. These concerns led them to postpone pregnancy and lose time or opt for voluntary childlessness and consequently miss out on the experience of motherhood.
Conclusion: MS poses a serious challenge to women who consider getting pregnant and wish to experience motherhood. Health care professionals should support such patients to overcome their concerns and indecisiveness by providing appropriate information and counseling.