Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Sexual Function in Male and Female Patients: An Update on Evidence in the Past Ten Years

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Background and Aims:

Inflammatory bowel diseases [IBD] are a group of chronic, debilitating inflammatory intestinal conditions. The aim of this review was to assess the recent data regarding the impact of IBD in sexual function of male and female patients.


A literature search was conducted on MEDLINE using, among others, the following search terms or their combinations: ulcerative colitis; Crohn’s disease; sexual function; sexual health; relationship status; erectile dysfunction; surgery. All English-language studies published in the past 10 years which provided data evaluating the sexual function in IBD patients were included.


Fourteen studies were identified; six included IBD patients registered on a national database or presented in a clinical setting, whereas eight evaluated sexual function after a surgical intervention for IBD. The majority of the studies used the validated for general populations International Index for Erectile Function [IIEF] and the Female Sexual Function Index [FSFI] for the assessment of sexual function among males and females, respectively. An impaired sexual function has been reported in general cohorts of IBD patients; females seemed to experience worse sexual dysfunction than males. Furthermore, depression was a consistent negative predictive factor across studies. Surgery did not seem to affect sexual function in the majority of studies, except a prospective one which reported a significant improvement in male sexual function [IIEF, p < 0.05] but not female [FSFI, p = 0.6].


Sexual function among IBD patients may be impaired, thus more studies are needed in order to develop the appropriate instruments and proper and effective management strategies.

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