How Does IBD Affect Your Sex Life?

How Does IBD Affect Your Sex Life?

Inflammatory bowel disease can often present with symptoms of sexual discomfort. In a number of cases, the symptoms are mainly psychological as a lot of people avoid getting intimate with their partner during an active flare to avoid any embarrassing situation.

Does IBD affects your sex life?

Sexual discomfort is not common in patients suffering from IBD under most circumstances; however, during an active flare, affected individuals may experience

  • Loss of interest or poor libido
  • Pain during sexual intercourse that may affect the quality of intimate relationships
  • According to a 2015 study, men who have inflammatory disorders are more prone to experience sexual dysfunction. As part of the study, a sample of men comprising of 42.3% men suffering from Crohn Disease and 57.7% men suffering from ulcerative colitis were studied. Results showed that 20% of the study sample reported experiencing difficulty in initiating a new sexual relationship in the setting of IBD. Another 8% blamed IBD for their failed previous relationship.

Are there any treatment options available to address the symptoms of IBD?

Fortunately, management of sexual symptoms as well as gastrointestinal complaints is possible with medications as well as lifestyle adjustments. In severe cases, when medical treatment fails, your doctor may advice surgery. It is noteworthy that surgical intervention is associated with more complex sexual complaints and therefore should be employed only as a last resort.

For certain types of IBD, surgery may be curative (such as in ulcerative colitis, resection of the inflamed area of bowel can help in resolving the symptoms completely). In other types of IBD, such as Crohn’s diseases, surgery can only resolve symptoms transiently due too presence of skip lesions throughout the length of bowel.

Post-surgery Outcomes and Expectations:

The post-procedure outcomes vary among different individuals; but this is what you should expect:

In Men:

Depending upon the type of surgery, a variety of complications may occur after major surgical procedure. These include:

  • Major injury or damage to nerves that innervate the inguinal region that may compromise the sexual sensation in some individuals
  • Soon after the surgery (and in some cases, during recovery period), men may experience difficulty in achieving normal erection or ability to ejaculate

It is noteworthy that minor nerve injury or damage usually resolve spontaneously within a couple of years of surgery. If you or your partner underwent a surgery for the management of IBD, speak to your partner and discuss what options are good for you.

In Women:

Women who undergo surgical therapy for the management of IBD experience a variety of sexual complaints. Some common ones are;

  • Loss of interest in sex – which is usually psychological due to poor image of self
  • Loss of sex drive due to dryness of vagina that may make sexual intercourse undesirable or even painful

If you are suffering from inflammatory bowel disease, it is recommended to speak to your doctor to learn how this ailment can affect your sex life and how can you address symptoms. This is mainly because most problematic complaints like vaginal dryness or discomforting sex can be resolved by the use of lubricants or vaginal gels.

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