Crohn’s Disease affects an estimated 1 million Americans with new cases diagnosed each year. Crohn’s disease is an inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, affecting the small and large intestine. It is a chronic inflammatory disease, also known as an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). There is no cure for Crohn’s Disease but there are many treatments that can reduce symptoms, help with overall well-being, and bring about long term remission.
Crohn’s disease does not affect one gender more than the other but it is more common among white and Eastern European heritage. There is an increase of reports among African Americans. There is no known cause for this disease but researchers have identified that is does run in families. Most people are generally who have it will be diagnosed between the age of 15 to 35.
Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
Living with Crohn’s can be painful and debilitating. Symptoms and signs can be anywhere from mild to severe. The symptoms usually develop gradually but can come on suddenly, without warning. When the disease is active there are many symptoms to look out for. Symptoms may include diarrhea, fever, fatigue, abdominal pain and cramping, blood in stool, mouth sores, reduced appetite and weight loss, and pain or drainage near or around the anus due to inflammation from a tunnel into the skin (fistula). More severe symptoms include inflammation of skin, eyes, joints, liver, bile ducts and delayed growth or sexual development in children. If you have had any of these symptoms or an unexplained fever lasting more than a day or two, please contact your doctor.
How Crohn’s Affects Women
Women living with Crohn’s disease (CD) can affect the menstrual cycle. According to the International Journal of Women’s Health, hormone levels may be affected by CD. There have been reports to have increased frequency and severity of premenstrual symptoms in women living with CD. Symptoms include nausea, abdominal pain, flatulence, higher number of stools, loose stools, and severe abdominal pain during menstrual cycle. Irregular periods have also been reported in women with Crohn’s disease, but there were also underlying issues. Poor nutrition, low body fat index, chronic inflammation and physiological stress all related to the disease. Medications that treat Crohn’s disease can cause amenorrhea, an association with missed periods.
Living with Crohn’s disease may also cause swelling in the genital area for some women. This can not only cause more bathroom issues but can also affect a women’s sex life. There have been reports of pain during intercourse while others avoid sex due to some of the embarrassing affects of Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s disease can affect the fertility of a women as well as during pregnancy. If CD is active, it can cause pregnancy related issues such as miscarriage. But for some women, symptoms seem to get better as a result of changes to the immune system caused by pregnancy. However with Crohn’s disease, the ability to absorb nutrients during pregnancy falls short. It is important to eat well and speak with your doctor about a medication regimen, especially if planning to breastfeed.
Women are also at a higher risk of anemia when diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. The blood loss from menstrual flow decreases iron stores and decrease the ability to absorb iron when small intestine is inflammed, according to the CCFA.
It is possible to a lead full, satisfying life despite the physical and emotional demands that come with living with Crohn’s disease. It is very important that you talk to your doctor if you suspect that you may have Crohn’s disease. Even though there is no cure, medications can help with symptoms and putting the disease in remission.
Special thanks for cover Photo Fight Crohns
References to: Everyday Health