Pregnancy is a life-changing experience in many ways. It brings certain changes that you have to live with, for a very long time. Also, the emotional waves that you go through are something extremely special and will remain with you till your last breath. Apart from these, bodily changes and discomfort that are associated with gestation can be distressing at times, for example, itching. It is one of the most common symptoms of pregnancy and around 70 per cent of women worldwide experience this. Usually, itching is because of the dry skin, stretching of the skin, or some allergy. However, it can also be a prominent sign of a severe health problem called intrahepatic cholestasis.

What is Intrahepatic Cholestasis?

Intrahepatic cholestasis is a condition that occurs in a pregnant woman when her liver malfunctions and leads to the accumulation of bile acid in the body. Apart from causing intense itching, intrahepatic cholestasis can cause penetration of bile acids in the placenta and harm the fetus. This health problem can take a toll on your pregnancy and can lead to complications like preterm delivery, stillbirth, and meconium-stained fluid.

Symptoms of Intrahepatic Cholestasis

Intrahepatic cholestasis usually manifests during the last week of the second trimester or the third trimester. It is mostly characterised by itching in different body parts that primarily arise in the palms and soles of the feet. Gradually, the itching spread to other body parts including the belly. And, itching around the belly is sometimes so intense that it forces the patient to scratch her belly so hard that it starts bleeding. Intrahepatic cholestasis sometimes also causes other health ailments like jaundice and upper abdominal pain. In this case, drugs can only help you get relief from the symptoms temporarily. They come back as soon as you stop consuming the medicine.

Risk Factors of Intrahepatic Cholestasis

Having twins in your belly makes you susceptible to intrahepatic cholestasis. Also, having this health condition in your previous pregnancy increases your risk of developing it in your next pregnancy. Additionally, factors including late pregnancy and having a family history of the ailment raise your chance of getting the infection.

Diagnosis And Line of Treatment For Intrahepatic Cholestasis

As far as the diagnosis of intrahepatic cholestasis is concerned, a doctor can confirm this with just a simple blood test. Sadly, there is no cure for this problem. You can only get rid of the symptoms for some time as mentioned above. In this condition, doctors usually recommend the preterm delivery of the baby to prevent her exposure to the bile acids for long and avoid any complication.