Monday, March 8, 2010

See ya later Hilda! (a post about prednisone)

Today is my last day of a 20-day prednisone taper. I'm very happy to say goodbye to Hungry Hilda (my alter ego who comes out when I'm on the juice and demands food every 2 hours), though I worry how I will feel in a few days. I suppose we'll cross that bridge when we come to it!

Being on prednisone for the 3rd time in a little over a year and experiencing more side effects this time got me thinking more about this "wonder drug." Yes, it makes me feel better pretty quickly. But this time, there was also the insomnia, Hungry Hilda, and the messed up menstrual cycle (just a day late this time, phew!).

A couple of readers noted they've had problems with their cycles, too. It got me wondering if the effects extended to ovulation - since prednisone might be something I'll have to use if I start flaring again when we start trying for a baby. Turns out - there is some evidence that prednisone *can* affect ovulation.

Prednisone is a hormone, so it can mess with other hormones in your body - including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), both of which are necessary for normal ovulation. For women with normal levels of hormones, it appears that higher doses of prednisone may delay or suppress ovulation. For women with high levels of androgens (for example, women who have poly cystic ovarian syndrome - PCOS), prednisone may actually suppress the androgens enough to allow the body to ovulate. So - I guess we can say that yes, prednisone affects ovulation - but it could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on where you're starting from. Interesting info - and definitely something to keep in mind.

Also a little tidbit for any guys with RA out there -  I also read prednisone can lower sperm count at high levels.

OK - enough about the prednisone for now. I'm off to feed the Hilda! :)


  1. You know, the more I read about the side-effects of prednisone, the more determined I am that I will never take the stuff. I'm past my child-bearing years and well into menopause, so all that's not an issue for me, but I have a hard time keeping my weight under control already -- I just don't need a drug that will make me want to eat even more! And then there are the other side effects to consider.

    I hope you won't need prednisone again, VW. I sure wish medical science could find some other drug that will be effective against the awful pain that rheuma can cause while not initiating a bunch of other, potentially serious problems. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

    Here's hoping you can give Hilda the boot real soon and get back to a normal appetite as you contemplate motherhood. By the way, rheuma or no rheuma, I think you'll do just fine being a mother. Things always work out somehow. :o)


  2. Prednisone- I had no idea it messed with your cycle, it completely makes sense, but still, you would think that the doctor would mention it! I hope you do ok without P and without Hungry Hilda! :)

  3. Hilda - I love it!!! I should have named my hungry monster years ago.

    I have had RA for 19 years (I am 34 now) and have two munchkins who are 3 and 5. I was on methotrexate prior to trying to get pregnant. So I went off MTX, went on a higher dose of prednisone and stayed around 10-20 per day for over 5 years. Lots of side effects, but I have 2 very healthy children. In Ottawa (Ontario) they considered me high risk from the get-go, but I received great medical care as a result.

    My son is almost 5. I'm done nursing and done with kids (I think?). I'm now down to 1 mg per day - hoping to be all done by month's end.

    Good luck - and I'll keep reading!

  4. I just came off of prednisone too. I hate myself on it. I felt like a sausage about to pop and I had 4 periods in six weeks. I'm sure it's got to mess with the girl parts somehow. Thankfully I'm done with having kids. I didn't get my diagnosis until my youngest was seven.

    I hope things work out for you. My Reumy says that a lot of people feel better when they're pregnant.

  5. Just found your blog and am so excited to hear more from you. I'm 26 and single and just starting to realize I might really want to have a child one day. With RA and a heart condition, that's going to be a major decision. The blogging community has been a wonderful source of encouragement for me. There are lots of awesome RA Moms out there!

    I'm looking forward to reading more about your journey and everything you learn along the way.

  6. Hey,

    I'm glad to see its getting so busy over here. :)

    And yeah - Prednisone pounds are no joke, espeically b/c once you have RA, it becomes increasingly difficult to excercise off those pounds!

  7. Hey, just found your blog through superbitch :) I'm also on the journey of trying for a baby with RA. We're in our third month trying. I've never been on prednisone (I always disagreed with it, and my docs were cool), have stopped methotrexate and am taking humira until I get pregnant. My RA is very aggressive and I definitely worry about taking care of kids, but I agree with Wren, things do always work out somehow :)

    I'm adding you to my blogroll!


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