Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) And Its Effect On Fertility Rate

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term that refers to two chronic diseases, namely ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s diseases. IBD causes the inflammation in the intestine. Although these two diseases have several common symptoms, they are quite different from one another.

Body parts affected by Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease:

Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory disease of colon or large intestine. In this disease, the inner wall of an intestine becomes inflamed and develops painful wounds known as ulcers. It is most severe in the rectal area and it frequently causes diarrhea. Mucus and blood will appear in the stool if the lining of the colon is damaged.

The Crohn’s disease it mostly affects both the parts of an intestine. Crohn’s disease is not only limited to the parts of intestine, but it can damages the other parts of digestive tract. On the other hand, ulcerative colitis is only limited to the lining of colon.

Both men and women can suffer from these diseases. The first time they were discovered in people between the age of 15 and 35. This is the time when people are sexually active or worried about becoming parents.

How IBD affect the fertility:

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IBD not necessarily affects the fertility of men and women. However, it is found that men taking drugs to control IBD are less fertile. Some of the medications used for treating IBD are safe while women plan to conceive, but a few immunosuppressive drugs may cause birth defects. If you are planning for baby, then you and your partner should consult your medical practitioner, before ceasing the medication. Active flare ups of IBD reduce the fertility.

Generally people are hit with IBD condition during their conceiving period. Fertility of men and women is not directly affected by IBD. However, it is temporarily affected by the medications and surgery used to treat this ailment.

How IBD medication affects the fertility: Drugs taken to treat IBD, at the time of conception and pregnancy, affects the fertility and health of baby. Here is list of drugs, which should be avoided:

  • Methotrexate and mycophenolate mofeit, if taken when a couple is trying to conceive could increase the risk of birth defects in the baby.
  • Infliximab and Adalimumab are used in severe cases of crohn's disease. These drugs should be ceased six month before conceiving.
  • Sulphasalazine, a commonly used drug for curing IBD, reduces the fertility in men and also increases the risk of birth defects.

Effects of IBD on females and males: The effects of IBD are different on men and women. When crohn's disease is severe in men, their sperm count reduces. Not just this, but also the sperm they produce are damaged and ill functioning. Men with IBD are generally undernourished, which has a direct effect on their fertility.

If IBD is treated by surgery in men, then they face the problems like no proper erection due to the damaged abdominal nerves. These nerves are damaged due to the removal of colon and rectum. Women with IBD could find intercourse painful. Pregnancy in women with IBD is normal, but risk of miscarriage or premature birth increases with active Crohn's disease. The risk to the fetus increases when a woman has gone through a surgery to treat this disease.

Proper doctor’s supervision, diet, smoking cessation and medication changes increase the chances of fertility for both, men and women.

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