Crohn's Disease and Pregnancy: Some Important FAQs

You may be wondering if IBD can impact your ability to get pregnant and start a family. There are several facts to consider when it comes to making such an important decision with your spouse,, particularly when it comes to Crohn's disease and pregnancy. Here you will find a compiled list of frequently asked questions regarding pregnancy and Crohn’s disease. Keep in mind: everyone is different, so it is important to talk with your gastroenterologist and obstetrician about this information or any additional questions you may have. “Will I be able to get pregnant?”

In order to answer this question, you need to ask yourself if your IBD is currently active. Recognizing whether you are in remission or experiencing active flare-ups can help further determine the complexity of becoming pregnant. Women with IBD in remission can get pregnant as easily as any other woman their age. However, women with active IBD or who have had surgery previously in their pelvis, may struggle.

“What if my significant other has IBD?”

If your male spouse has IBD, his fertility level will not be impacted. However, your spouse should be cautious about taking certain medications. Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine®) has been reported to reduce sperm count and quality. Seek a doctor’s approval before switching to another 5-ASA compound treatment.

“Will my child be born with IBD?”

No, not necessarily. If both parents have IBD, a baby has a 1 in 3 chance of developing IBD. On the other hand, chances significantly change if only one parent has Crohn’s disease. In this case, there is a 9% chance of a baby adopting the condition.

“How will pregnancy affect my IBD symptoms?”

Perhaps surprisingly, pregnancy often has a positive effect on Crohn’s disease. Since pregnancy naturally calms the immune system to protect the fetus, it reduces IBD symptoms. Also, pregnant women release the hormone relaxin, which stops premature contractions of the uterus. This aspect of pregnancy may reduce the need for surgery in the future, as well as future flare-ups.

“Are my medications harmful to my baby?”

There are particular medications that pregnant women should be mindful of. The drug methotrexate is extremely harmful to fetuses and newborns. Men should avoid taking methotrexate at least three months prior to conception. Women should also not take methotrexate within three to six months before getting pregnant. Women should continue to not take methotrexate during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.