Identifying Crohn’s Disease triggers and monitoring your symptoms are critical steps in leaning to manage the condition. Use the list below to get started.
Crohn’s Disease Symptoms in Women
Women are more likely to experience a few more Crohn’s symptoms than men are. These symptoms include:
- Irregular or painful periods
Crohn’s Disease Symptoms in Men
For the most part, the symptoms that people with Crohn’s experience are the same. However, certain Crohn’s side effects occur specifically within men. Managing your Crohn’s can help avoid the potential associated conditions listed below:
Research shows that men with irritable bowel disease (IBD) are more likely to experience sexual dysfunction, especially if you are younger than 50. Crohn’s Disease is characterized by chronic inflammation in the gut. When there is inflammation in the body, especially over long periods of time, hormones and hormone regulation may be affected. The imbalance in hormones is what causes erectile dysfunction and reduced sex drive. If you have Crohn’s and are experiencing any sort of sexual dysfunction, contact your doctor to develop a treatment plan.
Certain Crohn’s medications may cause reductions in sperm counts. If you are considering having children, check with your doctor to ensure your Crohn’s medication will not interfere.
Research shows that men with Crohn’s are four to five times more likely to be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. Researchers believe this correlation stems from the constant inflammation in the rectum, which is located right next to the prostate. Talk to your doctor about routine prostate cancer screenings.
The link between IBD and depression is suspected to stem from the condition interfering with quality of life and the effects of gut health on the brain. Research also shows that men are less likely to seek treatment for depression than women, leaving a lot of cases undiagnosed. Treating depression can be a critical piece of managing your Crohn’s Disease. We recommend reaching out to a therapist, counselor, or friends and family to help find the right treatment path.
Crohn’s Disease Symptoms for Women and Men
Outside of these gender-specific symptoms, both women and men tend to experience similar Crohn’s Disease symptoms. The most common symptoms are:
- Rectal bleeding
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Urgency to empty bowels
- Unfinished bowel movements
- Excessive gas
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Osteoporosis: 30-60% of people with Crohn’s disease have a lower-than-average bone mineral density
Crohn’s Disease Triggers
While many people with Crohn’s Disease will experience similar symptoms, the triggers to their symptoms are not always the same. The range of triggers is why there is no “one size fits all” approach to Crohn’s management. Any of the below triggers may cause your Crohn’s Disease symptoms:
- High-fat foods (fast food, foods cooked in butter or oil)
- Carbonated beverages
- Caffeine (coffee, tea, energy drinks, soda)
- Dairy products
- Foods high in fiber
- Gas-producing foods (lentils, beans, cabbage, broccoli)
- Nuts and seeds
- Raw fruits and vegetables
- High-fat meats (red meat, pork)
- Spicy foods
- Whole grains
Managing your Crohn’s Disease through dietary improvements can change over time, depending on whether you’re in remission or in a flare. For this reason, we recommend working closely with your Gastroenterologist and a Registered Dietitian to develop a Crohn’s management plan that works best for you and your body.
Kaitlyn Willwerth is a Registered Dietitian at OnPoint Nutrition. Kaitlyn's work focuses on providing individualized health and lifestyle coaching and, most importantly, support. She is a Certified LEAP Therapist and has also completed the Monash University 'Low FODMAP Diet for IBS' online training course for health professionals.