A systematic review on the effect of DMARDs on fertility in rheumatoid arthritis

D. De Cock, L. Brants, I. Soenen, S. Pazmino, D. Bertrand, V. Stouten, R. Westhovens, P. Verschueren

Onderzoeksoutput: Articlepeer review

9 Citaten (Scopus)


Introduction: Drug therapy could alter fertility in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We aimed to perform a systematic review to evaluate if Disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) therapy influences fertility as this is an important point to consider in shared decision making on RA therapy. Methods: A search was conducted at 18/10/2019 in EMBASE, PubMed (including MEDLINE) and the Web of Science Core Collection. Our inclusion criteria were studies involving women or men diagnosed with RA, older than 18 years and on DMARD therapy, with as outcome a fertility parameter. Systematic reviews, meta-analyses, case reports, case series and animal studies were excluded. Studies not in English or Dutch or published before 2004 were excluded. Quality appraisal was performed by the CASP systematic review checklist. Results: After duplicate removal, 9030 references were identified. After title/abstract screening, 82 articles remained. After full text screening, 4 articles could be retained. No studies were found through backward snowballing. Only studies involving women could be retained. The included studies investigated the effect of methotrexate, certolizumab pegol, etanercept and sulfasalazine on fertility. No detrimental effects of these DMARDs on time-to-pregnancy, anti-Müllerian hormone serum level or presence of a history of infertility, were reported. Conclusion: This systematic review underlines the gap in knowledge regarding the effect of DMARDs on fertility in women and especially men with RA. DMARD treatment, contrary to general belief, seemed to have no harmful effect on fertility, possibly because it resulted in better controlled disease activity. More research is needed to improve guidance for patients with RA with a child wish.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)873-878
Aantal pagina's6
TijdschriftSeminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism
Nummer van het tijdschrift5
StatusPublished - okt 2020


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