Crohn’s and Women: How IBD Can Affect Menstruation

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Crohn’s and Women: How IBD Can Affect Menstruation

Crohn’s disease can make period pain worse.

For any woman who suffers from PMS or cramps, getting your period is decidedly a low point of the month. But for women with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like Crohn’s, the symptoms can be even worse and last longer. Women with Crohn’s also have fewer options to treat the symptoms because the usual medications may exacerbate the underlying condition.

According to a study published in March 2014 in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Disease, women with IBD experienced more intense pain and a heavier flow than those without IBD. Women with IBD may also experience more irregular periods. Researchers suggest that hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle cause more severe GI symptoms, such as nocturnal diarrhea, blood in the stool, and fecal incontinence. “We know that there are estrogen and progesterone receptors in the GI tract, and this may explain why women are subject to GI symptoms around the time of their period,” says Sumona Saha, MD, the lead author of the study and an associate professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison.

But not every woman with IBD has it worse off. Some women have no change in their symptoms related to their menstrual cycle, says Dr. Saha, who adds that symptoms increase in only about 13 percent of women in the year prior to diagnosis. “We’re not clear on why some women have heightened symptoms and other women don’t,” she says.

Aside from natural hormonal fluctuations, some of the medications that women take for Crohn’s, such as steroids, can affect cycle regularity as well. Other nonsteroidal medications seem to have less of an effect on period irregularity. An irregular period may not seem like a big deal, but studies show that women with irregular periods report a lower health-related quality of life.

Read on: Crohn’s and Women: How IBD Can Affect Menstruation | Everyday Health

Read on: Crohn’s and Women: How IBD Can Affect Menstruation | Everyday Health 

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