If you live with IBD, you may have questions on what role IBD could play in your fertility and pregnancy journey. This article will answer some commonly asked questions relating to pregnancy and IBD.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before making any decisions or changes relating to your health.
Does IBD impact my fertility or my ability to get pregnant?
There is no significant research proving any connection between issues with fertility in women and IBD. However, if someone with IBD is experiencing issues with their mental health or have had surgery in the past, this may play a role in one’s fertility journey. The majority of medications that are prescribed for IBD have no impact on one’s fertility, however there are some medications that should be avoided if you are trying to get pregnant, are pregnant or have just had a baby. Reach out to your doctor if you have questions about your medication(s).
Will pregnancy make my IBD symptoms worse?
If you are in remission prior to becoming pregnant, it is very unlikely that your pregnancy will cause you to go into a flare or relapse. However, if you are in a flare or your disease is more active before you get pregnant, and then you become pregnant, it is likely that your flare will continue during your pregnancy and you could experience mild to severe symptoms or issues during your pregnancy. If you experience a flare up while you are trying to conceive, becoming pregnant, are pregnant, or were recently pregnant, it is crucial to speak with your doctor so that they can give you the care that you deserve as you move along in your journey.
I have a stoma, does this impact my pregnancy?
Having a stoma most likely will have little to no impact on your pregnancy. If you do have a stoma, make sure that the doctor who is supporting you through your pregnancy is aware, so that they can advise as to any potential changes you may notice with it, as well as anything to do/keep in mind through your pregnancy and for your labour and delivery.
Can I breastfeed if I have IBD?
You can breastfeed if you have IBD, however there are some medications that should be avoided if you are breastfeeding. This is because some medications can be passed on through your breastmilk. If you are planning to breastfeed, ask your doctor if it is safe to do based on the medications you are taking. It is possible that if breastfeeding is important to you, a change of medication will be necessary. Alternatively, you may opt not to breastfeed if your medication is keeping you well. Speak to your doctor about what choice is best for you.
Do I need to follow a different diet while pregnant with IBD?
All pregnant women are advised to follow a well-balanced diet and not make any major changes unless advised to by their doctor. If you are worried about your diet during your pregnancy, reach out to your doctor as they will be able to provide you with advice specific to you.
Will my child have IBD if I do?
The risk of your child having IBD (Crohn’s or UC) is slightly higher when a parent has the condition, however that does not mean that they will definitely have it. Crohn’s tends to run in families and according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, “between 5% and 20% of people with IBD have a first-degree relative” with the disease. If you are worried about your child inheriting certain health conditions, do speak with your doctor who can provide you with the reassurance you need.
Should I see my gastroenterologist if I am thinking about or am already pregnant?
It’s always a good idea to have your different care teams aware of any major health change, even if it doesn’t directly impact that area of your health. Your IBD may play a role in your pregnancy, especially if you’re in a flare, therefore it’s important to keep your gastroenterology team in the loop of what is happening with your pregnancy plans.
There are many questions that you may have regarding your fertility and/or pregnancy in relation to your IBD. If you have any questions, or are thinking about making changes in your life and health, contact your doctor and make sure that your care teams are in the loop. The more knowledge you have, the more power you have. We hope that this article has helped answer some of the questions you have had and hope to provide you with more resources on this topic in the future.