Seventy-one women who had a proctocolectomy for ulcerative colitis (n = 41) or Crohn's disease (n = 30) were interviewed in the follow-up clinic about gynaecological problems and fertility. All women were examined by an independent gynaecologist and abnormalities of the internal genital tract were registered. Forty-nine per cent (35/71) of the women had a distressing vaginal discharge after proctocolectomy, compared with 9% (6/71) before surgery. At the gynaecological examination 45% (32/71) had a heavy vaginal secretion with- out any signs of an acute vaginal infection. In 68% (30/44) fluid retention in the vagina was associated with a caudally firmly fixed and dilated posterior vaginal fornix. Twelve per cent (8/66) of the women reported dyspareunia before surgery. After surgery, 27% (18/66) complained of this symptom. Fertility was significantly reduced after surgery since only 37% (10/27) of the women who attempted to become pregnant succeeded within 5 years follow-up. The corresponding figure before surgery was 72% (39/54). Those who conceived went through pregnancy and parturition without any incident, 6 of 21 delivered by caesarean incision. In conclusion, conventional proctocolectomy in women will result in distressing vaginal discharge, and dyspareunia in a considerable proportion of the patients. The operation also seems to decrease their chances of becoming pregnant.