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Sex Hormones and Multiple Sclerosis Link by Kelcey Rankin


Unless someone you know well or love has Multiple Sclerosis, it is probably safe to assume your knowledge is limited to a few facts. Multiple Sclerosis, or it’s common acronym MS, is a chronic, progressively debilitating, incurable disease. MS occurs when the immune system attacks the myelin, a sheath or covering that protects nerve fibers. The nerves in the spinal cord, brain, and optic nerve are damaged by this disease, which then leads to scaring, also know as sclerosis. The nerves begin to work improperly causing numbness and tingling. Other symptoms include muscle weakness, feeling fatigued, trouble walking, and chronic pain.

When my sister was diagnosed with MS, her symptoms where unusual. Her vision became blurry and colors, especially blue and red looked dull and faded.  She was diagnosed with Optic Neuropathy, which can indicate an onset of Multiple Sclerosis.  However, Optic Neuropathy can be caused by other illnesses too, so at first we weren’t thinking she had MS.  Her doctor ordered an MRI and it revealed that she had multiple lesions on her brain, which were affecting her optic nerve.  Lesions are inflammations of brain tissue and they show up on a MRI.

My sister has decided to manage her MS strictly through diet and a healthy lifestyle.  There have been extensive studies done which indicate that the consumption of certain nonsaturtated fats and unprocessed foods can slow down the progression of MS.  So far, her MS has been managed entirely by it. My sister does not eat sugar, meat, dairy, or anything processed. The success from this diet has put her symptoms on the back burner.

MS can be hard to diagnose because it could just as easily a pinched nerve, vitamin deficiency, lupus, or stress-related disorders.  Unfortunately, there is not a fool-proof test to determine the presence of MS.  As many as 10% of the people diagnosed with MS don’t actually have it.  To be sure you should consult a neurologist or an MS specialist.

My sister is not the other person in my family who has MS. My first cousin Sarah was diagnosed at age 26. She has more lesions more frequently. She has had two kids since finding out. Sarah went into remission while pregnant both times. In some instances when woman have babies they stay in remission indefinitely. Unfornatly Sarah relapsed after both babies.

Correlation between sex hormones and magnetic resonance imaging lesions is not being studied. The objective is to determine if sex hormones play a role in the pathogenesis in MS. They have put serum estradiol and progesterone in patients right before their menstrual cycle. The result shows that patients with high estradiol and low progesterone levels had a significantly greater number of lesions than those with low levels of both of these hormones. Patients with high estrogen and progesterone levels had significantly low number of lesions on their MRI. The conclusion is that estradiol and progesterone may influence disease activity in MS. If further studies confirm these results, it may be possible to develop therapy by altering levels in hormones.

There are many helpful treatments to help manage MS, such as Corticosteroids, ACTH(adrenocorticotropic hormone), intravenous immunoglobulin, plasma exchange. My cousin takes the first one, which is basically a steroid. There are many other drugs that help with MS but these are the ones that cause less side affects and help you to feel better faster.  Researchers are working hard to find a cure, and many believe it is not far off.

In conclusion, MS used to be a depressing, sad disease that caused crippling muscle degeneraton.  Now there are good treatment options that slow and in some cases reverse the affects of the disease.  As I said before my sister manages hers just with diet and my cousin takes medication. We hope for a cure soon so my family and others do not have to suffer anymore.  MS is strong, but we are STRONGER. Lets find a cure!


Works cited

Pregnancy and remission with MS, http://ms.about.com/od/livingwellwithms/tp/ms_pregnancy.htm

Diagnosing MS, Signs and symptoms http://www.webmd.com/multiple-sclerosis/guide/multiple-sclerosis-diagnosing

Medications for MS http://www.webmd.com/multiple-sclerosis/tc/multiple-sclerosis-ms-medications

Hormones affect MS, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Changing your diet for MS, www.overcomingms.org



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