Fertility

Most women with Crohn's disease are able to become pregnant as easily as other women. There is a slightly increased risk of miscarriageThe spontaneous loss of pregnancy. if conceptionThe fertilisation of an ovum by a sperm cell: the start of pregnancy. occurs while the disease is active but, in general, Crohn's disease has no adverse affect on the developing baby and pregnancy has no adverse effect on the disease process.

For men, the medication sulphasalazine can decrease sperm count and may cause temporary infertility, so if you are trying to become a father, ask your doctor about stopping this drug and switching to another 5-aminosalicylate (5-ASA) compound. However, these drugs are being used less frequently in Crohn's disease as more effective options have become available.

Both men and women should stop taking methotrexate for three months before trying to conceive, and women should not take this drug during pregnancy or while breastfeeding as it may have harmful effects for the foetus or baby.

With the exception of methotrexate, the drugs used to treat active disease and to maintain remission are safe in pregnancy. Some family doctors try to stop medication during pregnancy, but if patients are well on their regime then it is vital to keep them well on medication during the pregnancy.

Those who want to have children in the future and are due to have surgery for Crohn's disease need to discuss this with their doctor or specialist before having the operation. Surgery may reduce fertility among both men and women with Crohn's disease.

A well-balanced diet is also important. If you are pregnant, it is important to follow your doctor's advice regarding regular and as-needed medication. Vitamins can be taken as usual, and it is especially important to continue taking folic acid if you are on sulphasalazine as this drug inhibits folic acid absorption.

My son was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when he was four years old and he has lived with the condition ever since. He got through it and has lived with years of different medications and operations. Two months ago his wife gave birth to a baby boy. When I feel low I look at my son and he inspires me. Alan