Fertility and pregnancy in inflammatory bowel disease

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 1997 Aug;58(2):229-37. doi: 10.1016/s0020-7292(97)00088-x.


Objective: A retrospective study of women with inflammatory bowel disease, aged 16-45 years during the 20-year period 1967-1986, was carried out in North East Scotland.

Method: Five-hundred and three women were identified: 15 patients had died from unrelated causes and 22 had emigrated, but 409 of the remaining 466 patients (88%) replied to the study questionnaire.

Results: Women with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease had normal fertility when compared with the general population of north east Scotland. However, unresolved infertility problems were more frequent in women who had undergone surgery for inflammatory bowel disease compared with those who had not (12% vs. 5% for Crohn's disease; 25% vs. 7% for ulcerative colitis). Disease relapse rates did not increase in pregnancy.

Conclusions: Overall, at conception women with active disease were as likely to have a normal full-term pregnancy as those in remission. However, spontaneous abortion occurred in five (36%) pregnancies of women who had undergone previous surgery for Crohn's disease and had evidence of recurrent disease. Three of these pregnancies were associated with active disease.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / etiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / physiopathology*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / surgery
  • Crohn Disease / physiopathology*
  • Crohn Disease / surgery
  • Female
  • Fertility*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors