During a person’s menstrual cycle, they may experience different Crohn’s disease symptoms. Crohn’s disease may also affect the regularity and severity of periods.

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that can affect various aspects of an individual’s life. Although it primarily affects the gastrointestinal tract, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fatigue, it also has other wide-reaching effects.

People with Crohn’s disease who menstruate may find their periods become more painful or irregular. Conversely, they may experience changes in Crohn’s symptoms and disease activity during different phases of the menstrual cycle.

Understanding how hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle can affect Crohn’s disease can help people manage symptoms and optimize treatment strategies.

This article explores the connection between Crohn’s disease and the menstrual cycle and potential strategies for managing the condition.

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Crohn’s disease can affect the menstrual cycle, causing changes and variations in its regularity, duration, and intensity.

People with Crohn’s disease may have periods that start later than the typical age. While the typical age to begin menstruation is between 10–16 years old, this often differs in those with Crohn’s disease and IBD.

Various factors may cause delayed menstruation, including:

  • disease activity
  • low body weight
  • difficulty getting adequate nutrition
  • medications, such as steroids

Crohn’s disease can also cause heavier, more painful periods. A 2014 study found that having IBD made it more likely that people would experience worse cramping and bleeding, as well as additional symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and gas.

Experts link prostaglandins to these effects. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that cause contractions of the uterus and gastrointestinal tract, leading to pain and diarrhea.

The inflammation of Crohn’s disease may affect hormones that contribute to period symptoms. Research from 2020 found that over half of those with IBD had worsening symptoms around their period.

Another 2020 study found that more than 7 in 10 people experienced at least one digestive symptom leading up to or during their period. Nearly 6 in 10 had abdominal pain, and nearly 3 in 10 had diarrhea.

It is important to note that the effects on the menstrual cycle can vary among individuals, with some experiencing significant alterations while others have minimal changes.

Crohn’s disease can lead to disrupted menstrual cycles. A person may stop having periods, or they may get periods more or less frequently than is typical for them.

Inflammation, weight loss, and stress can also affect hormone levels and disturb the menstrual cycle. Furthermore, Crohn’s disease medications, such as steroids, can affect regularity.

People who want to become pregnant may be concerned about irregular periods. However, many find their menstrual cycles become more regular after managing Crohn’s disease for a few years.

Crohn’s disease can cause gynecological complications. Chronic inflammation can affect the reproductive organs and tissues, leading to issues such as:

Bands of scar tissue, called adhesions, may develop due to chronic inflammation. These can potentially cause infertility or complications in conception.

Crohn’s disease can affect the menstrual cycle. Periods can become irregular, and a person may have more pain, diarrhea, and other Crohn’s symptoms during their periods.

Although people may have concerns about their fertility and conceiving, menstrual cycles should eventually regulate.

Managing Crohn’s disease with appropriate medications and lifestyle changes should help ease the menstrual cycle back into a typical rhythm.