Can inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affect my sex life?
Yes. Some women with IBD have pain or discomfort during sex. This can be
caused by the disease itself, surgery, and emotional issues related to the
disease. Women with IBD may have the following problems during sex:
pain in the area between the vagina and rectum (perineal area)
feeling like they have to have a bowel movement
embarrassment because of having a stoma
fear of passing gas or stool
In women with CD, painful sex is often a sign of a fistula or abscess in the
vagina or that the disease is affecting the perineal area. Most women with UC
have relatively normal sex lives. But after surgery, sexual problems are more
common in women with both UC and CD.
If you have Crohn's disease, you probably have found that certain foods trigger your intestinal symptoms, especially when the disease flares. Learning to avoid these food triggers may allow you to self-manage your Crohn's disease, reduce gastrointestinal symptoms, and promote intestinal healing.
Emotional issues caused by IBD can also interfere with a woman's sex life.
Women with IBD have less confidence in their bodies compared with other women.
Studies show that women with IBD who are in stable relationships have sex less
frequently than other women.
Even though it may be embarrassing, it is important to tell your doctor if
you are having sexual problems. She can suggest helpful hints that will help
you get back a healthy sex life. For example, some experts suggest that women
who use enemas or suppositories do so after sexual intercourse. Plus, women
with ileal stomas and external pouches may want to empty the bags prior to
sexual relations. Sometimes women cover up their external pouches in ways that
make them feel less self-conscious and more attractive during sex.
Painful sex may be a sign that your disease is getting worse. So it is very
important you talk to your doctor about any sexual problems. Your doctor may
also be able to change your treatment program to make you feel better and in
turn help your sex life.
WebMD Public Information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services