Female genital tract tuberculosis (FTGB) is TB of the uterus, uterine tubes, ovaries and vagina. It is a feared disease and patients are often confused and scared of the social implications. The two main effects of tuberculosis in young women is infertility (the inability to conceive due to damage to the uterine tubes and uterus) and TB infection in pregnancy. However, both can be treated with a good outcome.
Early diagnosis and complete treatment with appropriate anti-tuberculous drugs for six months is mandatory to ensure a good response. Patience and support from the family is important at this stage. It is important to understand that unless the patient is in good health and free from the disease attempts at pregnancy will fail including procedures like test tube baby.
Tuberculosis causes even more anxiety if found during pregnancy. Patients often insist that the pregnancy should be ended so that the unborn baby is not affected by the disease and the mother can recover. However ending the pregnancy is the wrong approach, the mother is already weak and the abortion procedure will weaken her further and allow the TB germ to spread in her body rapidly. Furthermore, anti-tuberculous drugs are safe in pregnancy and do not cause damage to the baby. The medicines if taken on a daily basis and supervised by a doctor will protect her and the baby from the disease.
A proper nutritious diet, hygiene and regular anti-tuberculous medicines are important to control the disease. Adequate rest is important both during pregnancy and after delivery to prevent flare-up of the disease. Regular antenatal check up both by your gynaecologist and physician are necessary to have a good outcome. Women suffering from tuberculosis can have a normal delivery, however, the obstetrician will decide the best mode of delivery.
Women with TB can breastfeed their newborn. The WHO ( World Health Organisation) recommends that women with TB who have delivered a baby or have contracted TB after delivery should breastfeed the infant.TB is not transmitted through breast milk, rather the breast milk will improve the health of the baby and increase her resistance to disease. Proper hygiene, hand washing and in some cases using a face mask will reduce the chance of infection. The paediatrician will assess the risk to the newborn. If there is a chance of infection to the baby then anti tuberculous medicines will be started. These are safe for the newborn.
So with tender loving care and help from the doctors, a happy outcome is possible.