Women and IBD

*See video interview: Treatments for Women with IBD

Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are largely diseases of young people, and women are as likely to be affected as men. People are more often diagnosed with IBD between the ages of 25 and 35, although the diseases can occur at any age. It is important for women with IBD to understand how their disease can affect their growth and important milestones in their life, and conversely, how life events can impact them, their disease, and their family.

The goal of the IBD program at the University of Maryland is to improve care for women with IBD. In addition to treating IBD, we offer education regarding many aspects of women's gastrointestinal health, and provide management strategies during difficult and life-changing times.


Women with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease in remission can become pregnant as easily as other women of the same age without IBD. Active disease may change outcomes for both the mother and her baby. At the University of Maryland IBD program, we want to ensure suitable treatment and safety for our patients during pregnancy and at the time of delivery. Since the start of the IBD program in 2004, we have managed 35 women successfully through pregnancy. Ultimately, each person's disease is different. Any choices you make regarding pregnancy should be made in collaboration with a gastroenterologist, obstetrician and surgeon.

Common concerns/questions of women with IBD include:

  • How will my disease impact my ability to become pregnant and have an uncomplicated pregnancy?

  • How will the treatment of my disease impact my ability to become pregnant and have an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery?

  • Can I continue to take my immunosuppressant medications during pregnancy?

  • Why are my periods irregular with this disease?

  • Can I continue to take oral contraceptive pills and hormone replacement therapy?

  • Is it common to have pain during intercourse if I have Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis?

  • Are my chances of having iron deficiency higher with IBD?

  • What are the chances that the child of a mother with IBD will develop one of these diseases?

  • Does having IBD have an effect on menopause?

  • Will Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis affect my sexual desire for my partner?

  • Does IBD put me at higher risk for osteoporosis and fractures?

Unique services offered:

  • Access to high risk OB/GYN providers.

  • Access to the Pelvic Floor Center.

  • Use of endoscopic ultrasound for evaluation of fecal incontinence and perianal Crohn's disease.

  • Use of chromoendoscopy for detection of dysplasia in high risk patients.

  • Utilization of a multidisciplinary approach for the care of IBD patients, including expedited referrals to minimally invasive and colorectal surgery, dermatology, internal medicine, and rheumatology.

  • Access to specialized imaging and diagnostic techniques.

  • Access to nutritionist who specializes in short bowel, malabsorption, and IBD nutrition.

For more information about our services or treatment options or to refer a patient to the IBD Program, please call 410-706-3387.

This page was last updated: July 29, 2014

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