Active Inflammatory Bowel Disease Impairs Sexual Function
A new Journal of Sexual Medicine study finds that a person suffering from active inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has a higher chance of experiencing impaired sexual function. IBD symptoms can affect sex life badly, discouraging the patient from pursuing sexual relationship. Such patients cannot have a healthy, pleasurable sex life.
What is IBD
IBD is a chronic illness that affects people between 15 and 40 years of age. The disease can cause severe abdominal pain, increased bowel frequency, abscesses, incontinence, skin tags/lesions, and fistulas, resulting in reduced confidence and self esteem, sudden mood changes, decreased body image, persistent fatigue, and decreased sexual desire.
Unfortunately, IBD treatment with corticosteroids can further adversely affect your body image and self esteem, as you are at a high risk of experiencing scars and mood changes. Some patients may even need permanent stoma while some others require it for a temporary period.
Additionally, the risk of systemic symptoms is also high in IBD, which may include chronic pain, persistent fatigue, all of which affect sexual life. Anybody experiencing pain and fatigue cannot do well in the bed, and it affects their sexual desire, drive, and performance.
Sex and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
IBD is a chronic disease that can raise relationship stress and concerns of incontinence. Most patients are not comfortable about communicating about their symptoms with bed partners, which often results in anxiety in relationships.
The development of fistulas is another complication associated with IBD that can adversely affect your sexual function. Fistulas are a form of abnormal channels that connect your bowel and the skin, which affect sexual function. Anal intercourse can aggravate a fissure, making it extremely uncomfortable for the person to enjoy sex.
Some women with complicated Crohn’s disease experience development of a rectovaginal fistula, which feels like tearing into the vagina. As a result, such women experience impaired sexual function and are not able to enjoy sex.
Certain anti-inflammatory agents are often prescribed for such patients. These drugs help reduce the inflammation of fistulas. Some patients prefer to apply a lubricating jelly during sexual intercourse.
More complicated cases require surgery for Crohn’s disease, which requires rectum removal. However, this procedure poses a risk of injury to the pelvic autonomic nerves. These nerves are responsible for controlling erections and ejaculation.
Unfortunately, disturbing the pelvic nerves in women can reduce clitoral sensation. Further, there is a greater risk of organs changing position with the removal of the rectum, resulting in pain during intercourse.
Most people with IBD experience severe and sudden mood changes as a result of the disease. As a result, they may be overpowered by the fear of incontinence, extreme fatigue, abdominal pain, which may keep them from having intercourse.
Some individuals also start to feel stigmatized and struggle with a poor body image. This can culminate into an impaired sexual function and reduced sexual desire.
Sexual health is a crucial part of your physical and emotional wellbeing. It is important to talk to your physician if you are suffering from inflammatory bowel disease and experiencing problems with intercourse. Additionally, it may help to indulge in an array of lifestyle options that enhance sexual desire and function. Have a good diet and get adequate rest and exercise.