Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). More than
People with Crohn’s disease may be concerned about how their condition may affect their fertility, or the ability to conceive children. Inflammation, nutritional deficiencies, certain medications and surgery can all affect your fertility and sexual health when you have IBD.
People with Crohn’s have higher levels of mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, which can reduce libido. Symptoms of IBD can also make people feel self-conscious about their bodies and intimacy.
Many people who have Crohn’s can get pregnant safely. Research to understand how Crohn’s affects fertility is still ongoing, but let’s look at what we know so far.
Women who have IBD (including Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis) have similar fertility rates as women who do not, according to a
Women who have Crohn’s may have slightly lower fertility rates than the general population, according to a
Many researchers currently believe that men who have managed Crohn’s disease well have the same fertility rates as the general population (or people without IBD). The exception to this may be men who use certain types of Crohn’s medication.
The medication sulfasalazine is often used to treat Crohn’s disease. It can
There is no single component of IBD that harms someone’s fertility. Many people with IBD will have little to no effect on fertility or libido.
However, there are a variety of factors that can become problems separately or together for someone with IBD who is trying to conceive children.
Let’s look at some general concerns and research findings.
Crohn’s and getting pregnant
Women with Crohn’s may have difficulty conceiving after colon resection. This type of surgery can sometimes
There are also concerns that Crohn’s pelvic inflammatory disease, which is not well managed with medication, may reduce your chances of pregnancy.
Crohn’s and getting pregnant
There is a chance that Crohn’s may flare up during pregnancy, even if you were in remission when you became pregnant. This is why it is essential to have active treatment for your IBD during pregnancy and work with your doctor to safely address any symptom flares should they occur.
Crohn’s and sperm count
From what we do know, it seems that most people with Crohn’s have no problem with normal levels of healthy, viable sperm. Medications for Crohn’s, especially sulfasalazine, can cause a temporary decrease in sperm quality and sperm count. Switching to another medication for a few months usually solves this problem.
Crohn’s and choose to be child-free
Some people with Crohn’s may consider their condition an obstacle to pregnancy. They can avoid trying to conceive children out of concern for their health.
While there are
It is important to remember that not everyone wants children. Some people may make the personal decision to be child-free, in part because of their Crohn’s disease, or completely regardless of it.
Your sexual and reproductive health is nobody’s business except your own. Although everyone deserves access to the information and care around fertility they need, no one should be judged for the decisions they make about their own sexual and reproductive health.
If you are planning to start or expand your family and you have Crohn’s disease, there are steps you can take to get the best possible outcome.
Getting your Crohn’s in remission (with no major symptoms) through effective treatment is the primary goal. Crohn’s that is well managed and in remission leads to the best pregnancy outcomes.
One 2021 review found that women who had active IBD when they became pregnant
Postponement of operation
If you want to continue pregnancy, you may want to postpone any surgery for IBD until you are done with children. Of course, this is not always an option due to disease progression, so it is best to leave it to you and your doctor to discuss.
Learn more about the types of surgery used to treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Medications used to manage IBD in women will not usually affect fertility, but certain medications can affect sperm count and quality in men.
Regardless of your parenting goals, always talk to your doctor about long-term medication side effects.
Other reproduction options
Some people with Crohn’s may choose to adopt children rather than pursue pregnancy.
It is also possible to freeze eggs or sperm for later use should you be concerned about your fertility due to Crohn’s symptoms or treatments, such as surgery.
Young men who are Crohn’s
Surgery for Crohn’s can in some cases affect sexual performance as well as libido. This can make pregnancy more difficult.
Addressing nutritional deficiencies
Crohn’s and other forms of IBD can have an impact on your body’s ability to successfully absorb the necessary nutrients from the food you eat, causing health problems.
Over time, this can lead to malnutrition, which can prevent your body from performing its functions, including reproductive systems, successfully. Malnutrition symptoms can include weight loss, anemia and fatigue.
Iron, calcium and vitamin B12 are just a few of the common micronutrient deficiencies in people with IBD.
Nutritional adjustments can be a way to
If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, tell your doctor about each medication or supplement you are taking.
Crohn’s disease can affect your sexual health in ways that go beyond fertility. People with Crohn’s disease
Chronic, intense gastrointestinal symptoms and unpredictable flares can make people with IBD feel self-conscious about their bodies. And recovery from surgery for Crohn’s disease may require you to avoid sex for weeks to months to fully heal.
There is also the mental health component of Crohn’s that can further affect body image, relationships and intimacy. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have been linked to a
Having any type of IBD, including Crohn’s, is nothing to be ashamed of. No matter what your symptoms or disease progression with IBD are, you deserve a partner who fully supports and accepts you.
It may be necessary to seek mental health care and treatment with your Crohn’s management.
Research suggests that people who effectively manage their Crohn’s disease have similar fertility rates to those without any type of IBD.
Complications of Crohn’s or another form of IBD can lead to nutritional deficiencies and inflammation, which can affect fertility. Medication and surgery can also alter your body’s reproductive processes.
More research is needed to better understand Crohn’s effects on fertility and reproductive health. If you are considering getting pregnant and have Crohn’s disease, talk to your gastroenterologist about risk factors and how to best prepare for parenting.