Arthritis is a difficult condition to cope with for any single person but for parents, it can be even more problematic. This also applies to would-be parents who have hard choices to make if they suffer from arthritis.

If you have arthritis and want to start a family then this does not mean that you give up this idea. What it does mean is that you accept that you will less energy than many parents and need to devise a plan for coping with this.

Starting a family is a time consuming, complex and tiring business at the best of times and even more so for a parent with arthritis. So you need to do some forward planning about how you will manage both the new arrival and your arthritis.

Every parent has to make changes to their lives when they start a family but you will have a few extra considerations. But as long as you accept this and have a strategy for dealing with this then there should not be any problems.

Parenting is discussed in the following manner:

  • Fears about children inheriting an arthritis gene
  • Parenthood and arthritis
  • Arthritis medication and starting a family

Fears about children inheriting an arthritis gene

A common worry amongst parents who have arthritis is that they will pass on a gene for this condition to their offspring. Whilst this is a legitimate concern the good news is that it is not automatic.

It is possible to pass on a gene for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis but there is much that is still unknown about the triggers of this condition.

Rheumatoid arthritis can run in families but it is not an automatic right. It does not mean that your children will develop arthritis just that they have a higher than normal chance of doing so.

Osteoarthritis is not an inherited condition. Most forms of this arthritis are not passed down through generations apart from ‘nodal osteoarthritis’ which affects the joints of the fingers.

Parenthood and arthritis

It is important that you balance your needs with those of your family. Parenting is tiring or exhausting as some would say but it is vital that you look after your health and avoid becoming overtired. You also want to avoid putting an unnecessary strain on your joints.

This means learning to pace yourself and taking short breaks to conserve your energy. Ask for help if you need to and don’t be shy about doing so.

Accept that you have to prioritise tasks rather than trying to do everything at once. Also accept that you may have limitations in terms of what activities you can do with your child/children, for example playing football.

Arthritis medication and starting a family

If you are a man whose partner is trying to conceive or are a woman looking to start a family then you may need to change your arthritis medication.

There are some forms of medication that you may need to stop taking before or during conception. This also applies to women hoping to breastfeed after the birth.

Discuss these issues with your GP.

The issue of pregnancy and arthritis is discussed in a separate section. For more information visit our pregnancy section.

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