Don't let myths about Crohn's hamper you from doing the things you love or making sound health decisions. Here are a few common myths-and truths-about Crohn's disease.

Myth: I can't prevent Crohn's disease.

Fact: It's true that you cannot change your genetic predisposition to Crohn's, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing this disease.

Researchers are convinced that lifestyle factors, such as diet and inactivity, in industrialized nations such as the United States contribute to the increasing incidence of Crohn's and other serious, chronic diseases. We eat diets consisting of primarily highly processed foods that are loaded with fat and sugar, instead of consuming a balanced diet. At the same time, we are under increasing, sustained stress and few of us exercise regularly. These factors all compromise our health and increase our risk of developing disease.

If you're not convinced there's link between diet and disease, consider this: research shows children who eat more fruits and vegetables have a reduced risk for developing Crohn's disease and those who eat less, have an increased risk.

Myth: I won't be able to have a normal social life.

Fact: There's no reason you cannot enjoy a full, rewarding life-including traveling-despite having Crohn's. The key to success is planning ahead. When you go out, identify where the bathrooms are so you can access them quickly if needed. Always carry a "Can't Wait card," available from the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (it provides evidence that you have a medical condition that requires immediate access to a rest room) and a change of clothes-just in case. If you dine out or attend a party, find out beforehand if there are foods you can safely eat. If not, eat before you go.

Myth: I can't have a family.

Fact. Having Crohn's disease does not preclude you from having a family. Doctors recommend becoming pregnant while you are in remission when it's easier to conceive. You can take most Crohn's medications while pregnant or nursing. Check with your physician if you are, or are planning to become, pregnant. Some women even enjoy a reprieve from symptoms while they are pregnant.

Myth: I can't have a love life with Crohn's.

Fact. This is simply not true. People who have Crohn's have satisfying love lives. In fact, research shows that most sexual problems in Crohn's patients are related to psychosocial factors such as depression and self-image, rather than the disease itself. Try to develop a positive sexual self-image, communicate openly with your partner and enjoy the full range of sexual experiences.