Fertility and contraception in women with inflammatory bowel disease

Jason Martin, Sunanda V. Kane, Linda A. Feagins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) carries a high burden in women during their reproductive years, and family planning issues are often a significant cause of concern. Fertility is normal in women with nonsurgically treated ulcerative colitis and similar or slightly reduced in women with Crohn's disease. Women who undergo ileal pouch anastomosis have reduced fertility. Fertility is likely worsened by disease activity but unaffected by medications used to treat IBD. Infertile patients with IBD respond as well as non-IBD patients to in vitro fertilization (IVF). Despite normal fertility, patients with IBD have fewer children due to concerns regarding infertility, disease inheritance, congenital abnormalities, and disease-related sexual dysfunction. Patients rarely discuss these issues with a physician. When discussion does occur, it may lead to changes in decision-making. Contraceptives are an important part of family planning, particularly during times of high disease activity. All forms of contraceptives are acceptable in patients with IBD, although there are specific considerations. The risks of combined oral contraceptives outweigh the benefits in patients with active disease and patients with prior or high risk for thromboembolism. Oral contraceptives and IBD are independently associated with an increased risk for thromboembolism, although it is not known whether this effect is compounding. Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate injection should be avoided in patients with or at risk for osteopenia. Intrauterine devices and implants are the most effective form of contraception and should be a first-line recommendation. The use of oral contraceptives is associated with the development of IBD, although there is no increased risk of disease relapse with the use of any form of contraceptive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-109
Number of pages9
JournalGastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2016


  • Contraception
  • Contraceptive
  • Crohn's disease
  • Fertility
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Ulcerative colitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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