Crohn’s Disease and Female Fertility
The fertility rates for women with Crohn's disease are not much different from women without the disease. Women with Crohn’s disease should be relieved to know that pregnancy often results in normal children. The same fertility options are available to women with Crohn's disease as for those without Crohn’s disease.
How Does Crohn’s Disease Affect Fertility?
Crohn’s disease can reduce fertility in a number of ways. For example, inflammation in the colon or inflammation directly involving the fallopian tubes or ovaries may decrease fertility.
Typically, it is not an issue of how Crohn's disease affects the reproductive organs, but rather of how the symptoms of Crohn’s disease hinder fertility. This is because symptoms such as fever, anemia, and possible infection are more likely to reduce the rate of fertility.
In addition, voluntary childlessness due to fear of intimacy and dyspareunia—pain during sexual intercourse may also influence the number of pregnancies a woman may plan. Finding ways to engage in enjoyable sex may also aid the journey to a healthy pregnancy.
Is it Safe for Women with Crohn’s Disease to Get Pregnant?
During flare-ups, both obstetricians and gastroenterologists advise women to treat the disease before getting pregnant. This is because flare-ups during pregnancy may increase the risk of low birth weight and premature delivery. This may create complications for the newborn, although, most children of women with Crohn’s disease experience a normal birth.
Treating Crohn’s Disease During Pregnancy
Research shows that the course of pregnancy and delivery is often not affected when the disease is inactive. But women thinking of getting pregnant should still talk to their doctors before deciding to conceive.
Most doctors advise women with inactive Crohn’s disease to stop taking their medications because research suggests that some medications may indirectly increase the risks of birth defects.
On the other hand, doctors accept that some medications like sulfasalazine can be safely used to treat flare-ups during pregnancy and to maintain remission.
Does the Medication have a Direct Effect on Fertility?
The medication used for treating the Crohn's disease has no direct effect on fertility. Women who want to get pregnant should openly discuss their feelings with their doctors to ensure a smooth course of pregnancy during remission.
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disease that can affect any part of a person’s digestive tract including the mouth, stomach and anus. Crohn's disease most often targets the ileum - the bottom portion of the small intestine.
The Causes of Crohn’s Disease
Although, research hasn’t been able to pinpoint the exact cause of Crohn’s disease, the inflammation is believed to be a result of the body’s immune response to foreign substances and infections. However, the trigger of inflammation in Crohn’s disease is still unknown.
Some evidence suggests that there may be a genetic component to Crohn's disease. This is because as many as 20-25 percent of patients with Crohn’s disease are related to someone else with the disease. However, no simple correlation exists between parent and offspring.
There is also a higher incidence of Crohn's disease among some ethnic groups as well as in certain environments. For example, those living in Western or industrialized societies show a higher rate of contracting the disease.
The Characteristics of Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease is characterized by active periods and inactive periods. The active periods are known as flare-ups, where the individual experiences the symptoms that are associated with the disease.
The inactive periods are called remissions. The individual doesn’t experience any of the symptoms associated with Crohn's disease during this time. These inactive periods tend to be longer and more frequent than active periods.
What are the Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease?
The symptoms of Crohn’s disease depend on where the inflammation occurs within the digestive tract and how severe it is. If the flaring is in the ileum, abdominal pain and diarrhea are frequently experienced. Other common symptoms include fever, nausea, weight loss, and fatigue.
How is Crohn’s Disease Treated?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic disease. The goal of the treatment is to reduce the symptoms of the disease and to bring on a period of remission for as long as possible. Crohn’s disease can be treated safely with medications and antibiotics.