Sexuality and IBD

Regarding the effect of IBD on interpersonal relationships and sexuality, it must be emphasised that, especially at a young age, patients are considerably affected psychologically, not only because their disease is chronic but because of some peculiar aspects of the disease. Direct and indirect effects of IBD, such as asthenia, diarrhoea, faecal incontinence, consequences of surgery and drug side effects generally cause a psychophysical condition of discomfort, making interpersonal relationships difficult both publicly and privately. In the light of these remarks, recent research pointed out the importance of not only clinical but also psychosocial patient evaluation, creating the basis for a multidisciplinary management of the disease that could considerably improve the patient's quality of life.

Young women suffering from IBD in particular must be carefully examined in regard to physical problems, difficulties relating to their sex life and the possibility of pregnancy [11]. Women with UC usually do not present a higher incidence of gynaecological diseases, except those who have undergone ileal pouch anal anastomosis (IPAA) and presenting a higher incidence of dyspareunia. In women with CD, approximately 25% develop organic and functional gynaecological complications such as menstrual irregularity, amenorrhoea, inflammatory pelvic masses, abscesses and fistulae that, in the case of failure of medical therapy, require surgery, which is psychologically invalidating and greatly affect their quality of life and sexuality, especially if associated with laparotomies and creation of stomas.

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