Crohn’s disease is equally common in men and women but can affect them differently.
Crohn’s disease occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the gut, causing inflammation in the small intestine, the large intestine, or any part of the digestive tract.
According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, Crohn’s disease is more common in people between 15 and 35 years old, though it can develop in people of any age. Women are just as likely as men to develop the condition.
People with Crohn’s disease experience periods with few or no symptoms, which is called remission. They also experience flare-ups, which is when many symptoms develop, often suddenly.
This article will look at what Crohn’s disease is and how the condition affects women in particular. It will also examine the most widely available treatments.
Crohn’s disease symptoms in females
Around 50 percent of women with Crohn’s disease are under the age of 35 at the time of diagnosis.
Symptoms of Crohn’s disease that affect females include:
1. Irregular periods
A flare-up of Crohn’s disease can influence hormone levels, nutrition, and stress, which all play a role in the menstrual cycle.
The inflammation caused by Crohn’s can block the normal function of hormones. Other common symptoms, such as diarrhea and loss of appetite, can impact whether the body gets enough nutrients.
A flare-up of Crohn’s can cause stress because the symptoms can be uncomfortable and affect a person’s ability to carry out everyday tasks.
Women with IBD may experience heightened symptoms in the weeks before and during their period.
2. Iron deficiency
Females with IBD are at higher risk of developing an iron deficiency than those who do not have the condition. This may be due to bleeding from the intestine or a lack of iron absorption.
A heavy menstrual cycle can also affect iron levels in the body, so a woman with both IBD and heavy periods should speak to a doctor about the possibility of an iron deficiency.
3. Fertility issues
Research shows that women who are experiencing a Crohn’s remission have similar fertility rates as the general population. However, if the disease is active or if a person has recently had surgery for the condition, they may have more difficulty conceiving.
Anyone with Crohn’s disease who is thinking about conceiving may wish to speak to a doctor, as some treatment options may also affect fertility.
According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, women with IBD do well during pregnancy if the disease was in remission at the time they became pregnant. If a woman conceives during an IBD flare-up, the disease may stay active or get worse during pregnancy.
Most medications for Crohn’s disease are safe to use while pregnant and breastfeeding, but there are exceptions, so it is best to speak with a doctor.
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