This article will discuss the impact that inflammatory bowel disease can have on one’s menstrual cycle.
For those living with IBD, you may have found that your condition has impacted other aspects of your health, outside of your gastro-related symptoms. For example, you may find that your mental health is impacted by the physical symptoms you experience, and you may also find if you are someone who experiences a menstrual cycle, that it is impacted as well. This article will discuss the impact that inflammatory bowel disease can have on one’s menstrual cycle.
Is there a relationship between IBD and your hormones?
If you experience a period, you may find that your menstrual cycle is impacted by your symptoms of IBD. There is a lack of significant research regarding the relationship between one’s hormones and IBD, however there are different factors such as inflammation and a lack of nutrition from IBD, that would impact your menstruation experience. For example, if you experience high levels of inflammation from IBD during a flare, you may have distressing gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea, which alongside your period can cause significantly worse symptoms. As one’s period can often bring gastrointestinal discomfort on its own, this added inflammation and pain can be a difficult combination to cope with. Inflammation and other symptoms of IBD can also cause one’s menstruation cycle to vary during periods of flare, which can throw you off of what is considered a ‘normal’ cycle.
One’s experience with IBD and their menstrual cycle will vary from person to person. If are struggling with your menstrual cycle or your IBD symptoms, reach out to your clinical team, as they will be able to help you figure out what to do in a timely manner.
Do medications for IBD impact your hormones?
Medications such as steroids can have an impact on your hormone levels. They can cause your periods to become irregular, longer, or heavier, however this shouldn’t be a permanent change. If you feel like your periods are worsening or becoming consistently irregular on any medication that you are taking, or took recently, contact your clinical team to see if there may be a connection.
Do contraceptive pills help regulate your period with IBD?
Contraceptive pills can play a significant role in regulating one’s periods. However, their role can be impacted by other medications that you are taking. Speak with your clinical team to see if taking a contraceptive pill would be helpful to your health and improve your symptoms. If you are already on a contraceptive pill and still experiencing irregular periods, a conversation with your doctor should be had to see what you can do to ease any distress or discomfort you are having.
Can my period trigger a flare-up of my IBD?
It can be difficult to figure out what’s causing what: is your period triggering a flare, or is your flare worsening your period symptoms?
As mentioned earlier, a flare-up can worsen your symptoms due to the high level of inflammation your body is experiencing. There is no significant research showing that your period would start a flare up or trigger a flare up to begin, but it’s definitely clear that symptoms like diarrhoea or constipation, and abdominal cramping, all can worsen during one’s time of the month and impact one’s period regularity.
If you feel like your IBD or period symptoms are worse during your period or at certain times in your menstrual cycle, make sure to note down what symptoms you are experiencing and when, so that you can take those notes to your doctor and see if you can determine a pattern in your symptoms so that you can then adjust your care plan, whether that be through medication or lifestyle changes.
Overall, each individual will have a different experience with their period or menstrual cycle when it comes to their IBD. If you have noticed any changes in your menstrual cycle, including your symptoms or cycle length, definitely reach out to your doctor to see if there may be a connection. Make sure to not make any changes without consulting your doctor first.
Tracking your symptoms will be really helpful for you and your doctor. You can do this using the My IBD Care app, which will allow you to share what you have input into the app with your doctor should you need to.
We hope that this article was helpful and if you would like to read more articles on IBD that may be helpful to you, check out our resources page!