Crohn's Disease and Pregnancy
Does Crohn's Disease Affect Conception?
If you have active Crohn's disease you may have a more difficult time getting pregnant than you would when it's in remission. Ideally, you should be in good health and in remission when you conceive.
If a man who wants to become a father is taking sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) for Crohn's disease, he should ask his doctor to change his medication. Sulfasalazine can cause a lower sperm count.
The drug methotrexate is deadly to fetuses and newborn babies. If a man is taking methotrexate for Crohn's disease, he should stop taking it for three months before attempting conception. Women with Crohn's disease should avoid methotrexate before getting pregnant and while pregnant. If you are taking methotrexate after giving birth, you should not breastfeed.
If both parents have IBD, the child has about a one in three chance of having IBD. If only one parent has Crohn's disease, the chance of the baby getting the condition is about 9%.
Crohn's disease seems to affect children more severely than adults. A child with Crohn's disease may have slower growth and delayed sexual development.
How Does Crohn's Disease Affect Pregnancy?
For some people, pregnancy has a positive effect on Crohn's disease. Pregnancy can lessen the symptoms. This is probably because pregnancy itself causes a suppression of the immune system. That happens so the body won't reject the fetus.
Being pregnant may protect you against future flare-ups of Crohn's disease. It's also possible it may reduce the need for surgery in the future. This is because pregnant women produce the hormone relaxin. Relaxin stops premature contractions of the uterus. It is thought that relaxin might inhibit the formation of scar tissue.
Women who have IBD have normal pregnancies and deliveries at the same rate as women without IBD. It is mainly when you have active Crohn's disease that problems can occur. Active Crohn's disease raises the risk of miscarriage. It also creates a higher risk of premature delivery and stillbirth. Women with inactive Crohn's disease, though, also have a slightly higher risk of miscarriage as compared with pregnant women.