IBD and Your Period

Having inflammatory bowel disease (IBD, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or indeterminate colitis) may affect the menstrual cycle. Menstruating people should be aware of the changes that may occur over a lifetime of living with IBD.

IBD and Your Period

  • IBD is a diagnosis of young people: It’s common to be diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35
  • What’s “normal” is a range: Periods can change over time and are different between individuals
  • Patterns are important: Charting periods over time will help in understanding your “normal”
  • Differences in the 1st year: In the year before or after an IBD diagnosis, periods might change
  • IBD and period symptoms: Women with IBD report more nausea, gas, and abdominal pain during their period than women who don’t have IBD
  • IBD diagnosis may matter: Women with Crohn’s disease report period symptoms more often than do those with ulcerative colitis

Symptoms to Bring to Your Doctor

  • Periods closer than every 21 days or further apart than every 45 days
  • 90 days+ between periods
  • A period lasting more than 7 days
  • Heavy bleeding and changing pads or tampons every 1 to 2 hours


Saha S, Zhao YQ, Shah SA, et al. Menstrual cycle changes in women with inflammatory bowel disease: a study from the ocean state Crohn’s and colitis area registry. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2014;20:534-540. doi:10.1097/01.MIB.0000441347.94451.cf

Lim SM, Nam CM, Kim YN, et al. The effect of the menstrual cycle on inflammatory bowel disease: a prospective study. Gut Liver. 2013;7:51-57. doi:10.5009/gnl.2013.7.1.51


IBD and Your Period

*Note: Studies cited included patients that were identified as “women.” The gender spectrum was not defined or encompassed in these studies and all patients were defined as “women.”

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