Hormonal Changes During Women's Menstrual Cycle Can Affect Crohn's Disease

By Dante Noe Raquel II , Jan 30, 2017 04:35 PM EST

It might be easy to say that most women aren't stirred when that time of the month reels around. Right before and during their cycles, many women deal with unpleasant symptoms such as bloating, cramps, and overtly mood swings. But for women with Crohn's disease, the menstrual annoyances don't end there. In fact, many females with Crohn's disease find that their signs are worse during their menstrual cycle.

Evidence suggests that hormones tend to fluctuate during your menstrual cycle, like estrogen and progesterone, and hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, can also affect digestive clutters such as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including Crohn's disease.

Researchers who intentionally studied 121 women with IBD found 25 percent of them experienced a change in their menstrual cycle one year before their IBD analysis. The study which was published in March 2014 in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases noted some good news: the lop-sided cycles typically evened out over time. Researchers advised that screening for menstrual anomalies should be considered in women with identified IBD.

Apart from that study, researchers have not yet discovered why a woman's menstrual cycle can affect her Crohn's disease warning sign. Miguel Regueiro, MD, an associate professor of medicine and also the head of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) clinical program at the University of Pittsburgh, says, "The connection between hormonal changes and Crohn's symptoms has been researched, but we're not yet sure how they are related to each other."

Still, Dr. Regueiro adds, "Many women do report that when they are getting their periods, their symptoms seems to get worse."

Taking Control Of Your Menstrual Cycle And Crohn's

If you have Crohn's disease and experience an intensification in your Crohn's indicators during your menstrual cycle, oral contraceptives or at least a dietary supplement could be able to provide relief. Here's how they work:

  • Oral Contraception - Females who use oral contraceptives (birth control pills) to prevent ovulation and block high pre-menstrual levels of progesterone, see a development in their menstrual cycle discharge symptoms, according to Powell. Progesterone levels increase after ovulation and are highest in the days of your menstrual period.
  • PMS Medications - Other treatments may also be helpful if you suffer from specific premenstrual or menstrual symptoms like mood swings, sleeping problems, and appetite disturbances (commonly known as premenstrual syndrome). A class of medication known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), specifically, may provide some relief from a form of PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Talk to Your Doctor About How To Safely Manage Your Symptoms

If you have Crohn's disease or any other seditious bowel disease, talk to your doctor and ask for prescription on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, like ibuprofen and aspirin) for relief from PMS and menstrual symptoms like headaches and muscle cramps.

You should also consult your doctor in managing your menstrual symptoms specifically on when they most commonly occur. With proper guidance, you can consider the use of oral contraceptives, evening primrose oil and other medications or methods that may be helpful.

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