Histologic Remission in Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Female Fertility: A Nationwide Study

Gastroenterology. 2024 May;166(5):802-814.e18. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2024.01.018. Epub 2024 Feb 6.


Background & aims: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is linked to reduced female fertility, but it is unclear how fertility rates vary by histologic disease activity.

Methods: Nationwide IBD cohort of Swedish women aged 15 to 44 years. We examined fertility rates during periods with vs without histologic inflammation (n = 21,046; follow-up, 1990-2016) and during periods with vs without clinical activity (IBD-related hospitalization, surgery, or treatment escalation) (n = 24,995; follow-up, 2006-2020). Accounting for sociodemographics and comorbidities, we used Poisson regression to estimate adjusted fertility rate ratios (aFRRs) for live births conceived during 12-month periods of histologic inflammation (vs histologic remission) and 3-month periods of clinically active IBD (vs quiescent IBD).

Results: During periods with vs without histologic inflammation, there were 6.35 (95% confidence interval [CI], 5.98-6.73) and 7.09 (95% CI, 6.48-7.70) live births conceived per 100 person-years of follow-up, respectively, or 1 fewer child per 14 women with 10 years of histologic inflammation (aFRR, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.81-1.00). In women with histologic inflammation, fertility was similarly reduced in ulcerative colitis (UC) (aFRR, 0.89 [95% CI, 0.78-1.02]) and Crohn's disease (CD) (aFRR, 0.86 [95% CI, 0.72-1.04]). Clinical IBD activity was associated with an aFRR of 0.76 (95% CI, 0.72-0.79) or 1 fewer child per 6 women with 10 years of clinical activity. Fertility was reduced in clinically active UC (aFRR, 0.75 [95% CI, 0.70-0.81]) and CD (aFRR, 0.76 [95% CI, 0.70-0.82]). Finally, among women with clinically quiescent IBD, histologic inflammation (vs histologic remission) was associated with reduced fertility (aFRR, 0.85 [95% CI, 0.73-0.98]).

Conclusions: An association between histologic and clinical activity and reduced female fertility in CD and UC was found. Notably, histologic inflammation was also linked to reduced fertility in women with clinically quiescent IBD.

Keywords: Histology; Population-Based; Remission.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / diagnosis
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / epidemiology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / pathology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / therapy
  • Crohn Disease / diagnosis
  • Crohn Disease / epidemiology
  • Crohn Disease / pathology
  • Crohn Disease / therapy
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female* / epidemiology
  • Infertility, Female* / etiology
  • Live Birth* / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Registries
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Young Adult