Ulcerative Colitis Resource Center

Ulcerative Colitis Resource Center

August 18, 2014
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Hormonal contraception improved menstrual-related IBD symptoms

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Hormonal contraception improved cyclical menstrual-related symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease in some women, according to recent study data.

Researchers performed a cross-sectional survey of 129 women treated for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) at the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation’s academic gastroenterology practice between 2010 and 2012. Participants were identified by database and questioned by telephone between March and November 2013 regarding cyclical menstrual-related IBD symptoms and how their contraceptives affect them.

Sixty percent of participants (mean age, 34.3 years; 85% white) were diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Cyclical IBD-related symptoms were reported by 60% of participants, with 42% and 72% citing symptoms in the pre-menstrual and menstrual phases, respectively (both P=.02). A current contraceptive method was used by 68% compared with 43% using hormonal contraception. Among those using hormonal contraception, 20% reported improved cyclical IBD symptoms, while 75% reported no change in symptoms, the most common being diarrhea (48%), pain (44%) and cramping (41%).

“In this subset of women with IBD, the majority report either improvement or no significant change in their disease-related symptoms,” the researchers concluded. “This finding has several implications as follows: (1) contraception is unlikely to worsen IBD symptoms, (2) for at least a subset of patients with IBD, contraception use might improve symptoms by reducing the impact of menses on intestinal function, and (3) there is justification to study the use of contraception for disease management purposes in future studies.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.