Irritable bowel disease (IBD) is a common gastric condition affecting approximately 3 million Americans, according to the latest statistics from the CDC.
While many individuals try to focus on managing IBD, they tend to forget that it can also influence other health problems such as erectile dysfunction. So, how exactly do these two conditions relate to one another?
About Irritable Bowel Disease
IBD is a debilitating disease that targets the digestive tract and leads to fatigue, severe diarrhea, weight loss, and abdominal pain. It is a chronic disease of which there are two types: Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Irritable bowel disease seems to be shared by both men and women equally, and is characterized further by increased bowel movements, incontinence, anorectal abscesses, and perianal fistulas.
IBD is usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40, which is the time when men and women are developing their body image and possibly initiating intimate relationships.
How and Why IBD Affects Sexual Dysfunction
Studies continue to show that there is a high prevalence of sexual dysfunction among those with IBD. Global sexual dysfunction as well as erectile dysfunction (ED) stems from the emotional, psychological, and physical aspects of IBD as well as methods used to treat the condition.
All the symptoms, complications, and treatment of IBD can impair body image and sexual function and intimacy, and the impact is significant.
Physically, IBD leaves someone with little energy for sex due to the chronic fatigue.
- There is significant embarrassment about the disease and its symptoms
- Makes one less likely to start a new relationship or become intimate
- Individuals rarely wish to discuss the disease or its symptoms with anyone
- People often become worried and anxious about issues that could occur during sexual activity, like passing gas or stool
- Makes one reluctant to start a new relationship for fear of breakup due to the disease
- There is worry and/or embarrassment about the effect of having a collection bag while in a new relationship
- Those with IBD are more prone to depression
- Anxiety can affect sex drive as well as performance
Taking corticosteroids can result in mood swings, damage to one’s body image, and persistent fatigue.
The compilation of all these factors is what leads many experts to assume why there is such a prevalence of ED among those with IBD.
IBD doesn’t have to prevent anyone from enjoying sex. Speak to Dr. Daniel Kaplon if you are experiencing sexual dysfunction issues, and if you have IBD. In many cases, your physician will initiate the conversation, so be honest and respond accordingly.
Above all, you should always remember that you are not alone, and that there are solutions out there for you.