Crohn  s Affecting Your Love Life?

Is Crohn's affecting your love life?

Chronic illness can affect numerous aspects of your life, including sexual relations. The good news is, however, that a satisfying love life is possible even if you have Crohn's disease.

How does Crohn's affect your sex life?

Research shows that most factors that may negatively affect your sex life are due to psychosocial factors, such as depression and self-image, rather than disease factors. In fact, depression is the strongest and most consistent risk factor for poor sexual relations.

Crohn's patients may experience discomfort during intercourse, especially women who develop fistulas. Surgery can disturb pelvic nerves, decreasing clitoral sensation or erection and ejaculation, and removing the rectum may cause some organs to shift in the body, changing your physical sensations. However, even if you've had an ostemy, you should be able to resume normal sexual activities and wearing an appliance following an ostemy has no physical effect on sexual functioning.

Medications such as steroids tend to dampen sex drive, and some drugs can change your physical appearance. Prednisone, for example, may cause puffiness and weight gain.

What can you do?

There are steps you can take to minimize the affect Crohn's disease has on your sex life.

Try to maintain a positive self-image. Remind yourself that you are more than your disease, and that sexuality is a complex emotional and physical state. Explore all sexual options and don't be focused only on intercourse. Fully experience all your sensations during intimacy.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Crohn's patients who are able to have open discussions with their partner are far more likely to enjoy rewarding sexual relations. Help your partner understand and become comfortable with your illness.

Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Get plenty of rest, eat a balanced diet, maintain person hygiene, exercise and don't smoke (smoking is associated with lubrication problems in women).

Men who have trouble getting or maintaining an erection after surgery have options. Rubber bands or erection rings, penile implants and drugs such as Viagra can help. Take heart: most cases of disease-related impotence are usually temporary.

Discuss your concerns and experiences with a physician who is sensitive and informed about sexuality issues, especially in patients who have an illness. It may also help to share experiences with other Crohn's patients in a support group.

Sexuality and healthy sexual relations are a normal and enjoyable part of life. Don't let Crohn's disease ruin your love life.