Don’t Let Crohn’s Ruin Your Sex Life

Crohn’s can change the way you feel about your body and intimacy. But don’t let those feelings take over. You can still have an active, satisfying love life.

Be Open With Your Partner

If you’re with someone new, be up front. Tell him how you feel about your body and sex. Make sure he accepts you as you are. You want to be comfortable with that person so you can relax and enjoy sex.

If your partner asks questions about your Crohn’s, be open and honest with your answers.

If you have a long-term partner, the disease can change your sex life. But it doesn’t have to end it. Talk about each other’s needs and concerns. You may find out you’re focused on something that doesn’t bother him at all. You’ll be less stressed about sex if you’re open about your worries.

Adapt to Suit Your Needs

If some positions don’t feel good, make adjustments. Be creative. Use a pillow to prop up your body to make sex easier. Lubricants can ease pain if your vagina is dry.

Anal sex may be painful or impossible after some Crohn’s surgeries. Look for new ways to be intimate that please both of you, but don’t hurt or worry you.

Sex shouldn’t harm your stoma or pouch. If you’re worried about the bag breaking during sex, change positions or use ostomy bands to hold the pouch in place. You can also wear lingerie that makes you feel sexy, but protects your stoma and pouch.

Empty your pouch before sex. This will ease your worries about a messy break, and can also make sex less painful.

To prevent a bowel movement during sex, you may want to take an over-the-counter anti-diarrheal drug ahead of time.

Learn to Laugh About It

Crohn’s can lead to some awkward episodes during sex, such as noisy or smelly gas. Try to take accidents in stride and even laugh about them with your partner. It could bring you closer together.

Intimacy means you share everything with the person who loves and cares about you. That means you can laugh about the time you farted during sex.

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Talk to Your Doctor

She can help you manage Crohn’s-related problems that affect your sex life. Don’t be shy. Bring up your concerns about your sex life.

Fistulas in your rectum or vagina can be painful for women with Crohn’s. These ulcer-like sores can be inflamed, get infected, or even tear into other tissues during intercourse. The doctor can give you drugs like antibiotics or anti-inflammatories. If they don’t work, ask if surgery is an option for you.

If you have erectile dysfunction caused by drugs or surgery, talk to your doctor about prescription medications like sildenafil citrate (Revatio, Viagra) or tadalafil (Adcirca, Cialis). Rubber bands, erection rings, and penile implants can also help you get and keep an erection.

If a drug lowers your sex drive or function, your doctor may be able to change your treatments.

Ask your doctor to recommend a mental health professional if depression or anxiety is getting in the way of your sex life.

Smoking can make it harder to lubricate and get erections. So if you smoke, talk to your doctor about stopping.

Focus on Intimacy

Intercourse isn’t the only way to be close to your partner or please each other. There are times when it can be too painful or risky. Work together to find other ways to be close. Candles, massage, music, and conversation add to romance.

If you need help to ease your fears about sex, talk to a sex therapist. You and your partner can learn how to better communicate and make adjustments. Online support groups may also teach you new ways to enjoy good sex with Crohn’s.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on October 28, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: “Intimacy and sexuality when you have a colostomy.”

Christensen, B. Gastroenterology & Hepatology, January 2014.

Jedel, S et al. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, April 2015.

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada: “Getting Closer … intimacy and relationships with Crohn’s and colitis.”

Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America: “The Intimate Relationship of Sex and IBD.”

Crohn’s and Colitis New Zealand: “Sexuality.”

Crohn’s and Colitis UK: “Sexual Relationships and IBD.”

International Society for Sexual Medicine: “Can inflammatory bowel disease affect a person’s sex life?”

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