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Johns Hopkins Health - IBD and Fertility

Summer 2008
Issue No. 1

IBD and Fertility

Date: July 24, 2008

Couple with stuffed animal

For women and men with inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, any wish to become a parent may loom as a can’t or a shouldn’t. But there’s good news for you—and about 2 million others—that says you can and should

Why are people with IBD conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease concerned about becoming parents?
Most people are actually hit with IBD conditions during their childbearing years. Many end up needing medications to control their symptoms or even having surgery. Women may find intercourse painful, and a small percentage of men who’ve had surgery experience erectile dysfunction. You need confidence and self-esteem to have an intimate relationship in the first place, and side effects from medications and body-image problems because of surgery can have a huge impact on intimacy. What’s important to know is that these issues—while real—can be managed and overcome.

What about fertility and conception?
For people with IBD, planning is the key. When IBD is not active, conception and pregnancy aren’t a problem. For men, there’s some chance that certain drugs may reduce sperm count. Women with IBD should be symptom-free for at least three months before trying to conceive. Ideally, you’re also seeing an obstetrician who specializes in high-risk pregnancies and a gastroenterologist who specializes in fertility and pregnancy. Those experts are best qualified to monitor your condition before, during and after pregnancy.

So, much of this is about reassurance?
Absolutely. This is about quality of life, and reassurance is everything. There’s no reason to let fear or misinformation affect the decision to start a family for anyone with IBD.


Learn more about IBD at hopkins-gi.org. For a physician referral, call us at 877-546-1872.

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