Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), can cause abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. Crohn’s is most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 25 — the peak of a woman’s fertility.
Fertility and Crohn’s disease
Many women with Crohn’s who want to become pregnant are concerned about how their IBD will impact pregnancy. The cases in which IBD can negatively affect fertility include:
- Inflammation in the colon, fallopian tubes or ovaries
- Scarring from surgical procedures such as a total colectomy (surgical removal of the large intestine)
- Crohn’s disease symptoms, like fever, anemia and infection
The good news is women with Crohn’s are just as likely to get pregnant as those without Crohn’s. But there are some important things to consider, such as:
- Conception – Women whose Crohn’s disease is in remission can become pregnant as easily as other women of the same age. Yet, women with active Crohn’s (those experiencing diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramping and other symptoms) may have more difficulty becoming pregnant.
- Pregnancy – If you have Crohn’s, the ideal time to get pregnant is when the disease is in remission for three to six months and you’re off steroids. If conception occurs during a flare-up, the disease is more likely to remain active throughout the pregnancy, increasing the risk of miscarriage, premature delivery or having a baby with low birth weight.
- Medications – Your obstetrician may suggest stopping Crohn’s medications for the health of the fetus. However, changing the drug regimen may affect disease symptoms, so your gastroenterologist may advise you to continue a successful drug regimen. Be sure to work with both doctors before conception to develop a plan to manage the disease during your pregnancy.
Fertility treatment and Crohn’s disease
If you are of childbearing age, suffer from Crohn’s disease, and are struggling to get pregnant, here’s some very positive news. Research shows that in vitro fertilization in women with IBD is as successful as in women who do not have IBD.
At the Center for Reproductive Medicine in Minneapolis, St. Paul, you’ll have the highest level of support from an excellent team. From experienced physicians to embryologists, andrologists, nurses, psychologists, geneticists and lab techs, we surround you with powerful resources to give you the best chance for a healthy pregnancy. This dedicated support and compassion, plus leading-edge fertility treatments are in part why our IVF success rates are among the best in Minnesota.
To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 612-863-6137 today.