Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Can Adversely Impact Domains of Sexual Function Such as Satisfaction with Sex Life

Dig Dis Sci. 2018 Jun;63(6):1572-1582. doi: 10.1007/s10620-018-5021-8. Epub 2018 Mar 21.


Background: Aspects of sexual health, which can be adversely affected by chronic disease, have been inadequately explored in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Aims: We evaluated patient-reported interest in sexual activity and satisfaction with sex life in a large cohort of IBD patients.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study within the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation Partners Internet cohort. Sequential participants completed a 6-question supplemental online survey to examine sexual interest and satisfaction using the Patient-Reported Outcome Measurement Information System® (PROMIS®) Sexual Function and Satisfaction measures. One-sample t tests were used to compare interest and satisfaction scores to general population norms.

Results: Among 2569 individuals, 1639 had Crohn's disease (CD), 930 had ulcerative colitis (UC) or indeterminate colitis, and 71% were women. Mean PROMIS scores for sexual interest were comparable to the general US population in men (CD: 49 and UC: 50 vs. population mean 50) and women (CD: 41 and UC: 40 vs. population mean 42). However, sexual satisfaction scores were lower than the US population in men (CD: 48 and UC: 48 vs. 51) and women (CD: 47 and UC: 46 vs. 49), p < 0.01 for both. Older age, disease activity, depression, anxiety, and pain were associated with lower interest and satisfaction and lowered IBD-specific quality of life.

Conclusions: IBD patients in a large online survey had similar levels of sexual interest but decreased sexual satisfaction compared to the general population. Exploring these sexual health domains during clinical encounters can aid in improving IBD quality of life.

Keywords: Inflammatory bowel disease; Physiological; Quality of life; Sexual dysfunctions; Sexual health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / diagnosis
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / physiopathology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / psychology*
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Crohn Disease / diagnosis
  • Crohn Disease / physiopathology
  • Crohn Disease / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Health*
  • Young Adult