Background: High levels of voluntary childlessness and pregnancy-related fears have been reported amongst inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients. Aims: To investigate what factors determine IBD patients’ childbearing decisions; and to examine psychosocial consequences of IBD on various aspects of patients' reproductive health. Methods: Six electronic databases were searched in a pre-specified and structured manner. Results: A total of 41 articles with data on 7122 patients were included. Between one-fifth to one-third of IBD patients had chosen voluntary childlessness. Around 50% of all IBD patients have poor knowledge of pregnancy-related issues in IBD. Poor knowledge of pregnancy-related issues in IBD was associated with voluntary childlessness. Observational studies have found preconception counselling is associated with patients choosing parenthood. Pregnancy-related fears and concerns are multifaceted, stemming partly from lack of knowledge of pregnancy-related issues in IBD. Many female patients are considered at increased risk for pregnancy because between one-fifth to one-third of patients do not use contraception. Research evidence for sexual dysfunction after disease diagnosis and treatment is inconsistent. There are limited data on patients’ pregnancy, postpartum and parenting experiences. A few shortcomings of the literature are evident; sample sizes were small, participation rates were low, use of non-validated questionnaires was common, and few studies included men and/or ethnic minority groups. The design of intervention studies is also weak. Conclusion: This review recommends pre-conception counselling for all IBD patients of childbearing age to tackle poor knowledge and allow patients to make an informed decision on their reproductive health.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)