Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Pregnancy: What To Know

Inflammatory bowel disease treatment in AtlantaInflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a spectrum of conditions, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, that cause inflammation of the digestive tract. Women with pre-existing IBD who wish to have children are often curious about how IBD and IBD treatments impact pregnancy.

Most women with IBD have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. However, according to the team at Piedmont Colorectal Associates, there are things you should know if you have IBD and are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.

This post will address some of the most common questions and concerns about the impact of IBD on pregnancy (and vice versa).

Conceiving With IBD

Pre-existing IBD often does not affect a woman’s ability to conceive. The ideal time to become pregnant is when IBD is in remission. A woman whose ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease is in remission is as likely to become pregnant as a healthy woman of the same age.

Active IBD and inflammation can make it more difficult to become pregnant. A history of pelvic surgery may also affect the ability to conceive if the surgery caused the formation of scar tissue in the pelvic region and around the fallopian tubes.

Pre-conception planning with a qualified medical team is important for women with IBD. Medication or lifestyle adjustments may be recommended to increase the chances of a healthy, complication-free pregnancy.

How Does Pregnancy Affect the Symptoms of IBD?

Pregnancy’s effect on IBD symptoms varies from patient to patient and even pregnancy to pregnancy. Some women experience an improvement in symptoms during pregnancy, others a worsening in symptoms and still others no change in symptoms. Experiencing an improvement or worsening of symptoms in one pregnancy does not necessarily have any bearing on future pregnancies.

Research has shown that active inflammation or flare-ups during pregnancy can increase the risks of adverse outcomes, including miscarriage, preterm birth, preeclampsia or low birth weight infants. To mitigate these risks, expecting mothers should be closely followed and managed throughout pregnancy by a multidisciplinary team of medical specialists, including an obstetrician, maternal-fetal medicine specialist and gastroenterologist or gastrointestinal surgeon.

IBD Medications During Pregnancy

Many of the medications used to treat IBD are safe to continue throughout pregnancy (although there are a few exceptions). Women who feel nervous about taking medication while pregnant should not suddenly stop taking their medications without consulting with a doctor. In some cases, alternate medications can be substituted for unsafe medications.

Diagnostic procedures such as colonoscopy and upper endoscopy can usually be safely performed during pregnancy. X-rays and CT scans should be avoided, except in the event of a medical emergency.

Contact Us Today

The uncertainties of pregnancy in women with IBD are best addressed through consultation and collaboration with a trusted doctor. If you have questions about pregnancy and IBD, please call or email Piedmont Colorectal Associates today.