What Black women should know about Crohn’s Disease

If you’ve been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease you are likely feeling a combination of terror and relief. Crohn’s comes with some rather debilitating symptoms that are very frightening, and hard to get a handle on, so you’re likely relieved to finally understand your condition. On the other hand, if you know a bit about the disease, then you know it is chronic, and that you have a lifetime of symptom management ahead of you.

Crohn’s affects men and women differently. Since Crohn’s symptoms affect the parts of our body very near our reproductive organs, it can, unfortunately, upset more than just a woman’s digestive health and stomach. It’s important women understand that so they aren’t taken by surprise by the additional symptoms that may follow. Here are things women should know about how Crohn’s will affect them.

It can cause pain during sex

In some cases, Crohn’s can cause inflammation of the genitals, which can make sex uncomfortable. Because the rectum and vaginal canal sit so close together, the inflammation that comes with Crohn’s, plus the pressure involved in sex, can be uncomfortable.

It may enhance chances of cervical cancer

One study found that women with Crohn’s face a heightened risk of pre-cancerous cells in the cervix becoming cancerous. If you do have Crohn’s, talk to your gynecologist about having more frequent pap smears.

Many women feel insecure about having sex

Because of the nature of heterosexual sex for women, many women fear that intercourse can cause their symptoms to act up, and may irritate their bowels, forcing stool out.

It may mean severe PMS cramps

PMS cramps can be very severe in women with Crohn’s disease. Talk to your doctor about safe medication you can take to ease aggressive PMS cramps.

And symptoms may flare up around your period

All Crohn’s symptoms may flare up around your period. Many women report having even more bowel movements during menstruation.

It can affect your body image

Most inflammatory bowel diseases tend to affect the body image and confidence of women more than they affect those of men. Since women are already so pre-conditioned to be aware of their stomach and midsection, having an illness that causes bloat and weight loss in this area only aggravate insecurities.

It may cause missed periods

Since Crohn’s can cause hormonal fluctuations and rapid changes in weight, it is quite common for women who suffer from the condition to miss some periods.

It can cause dangerous nutrient deficiencies

Crohn’s can make it difficult for your body to properly absorb nutrients. This is a problem for both men and women, but women should watch their Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid levels closely.

Menstruation plus Crohn’s affects your iron

Crohn’s causes iron deficiencies in both men and women because it can cause blood loss. But since women also lose blood during menstruation, periods combined with Crohn’s can make iron deficiencies even more severe in women.

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