The effects of drugs used for IBD

Most of the drugs used for IBD have not been found to affect sexual drive or performance.

However, there is some evidence that steroids can affect sexual satisfaction. They can also cause mood changes and depression, which may lead to loss of interest in sex. Other steroid side effects, such as weight gain, rounding of the face and acne may make you feel less desirable. Talk to your doctor if you are being affected in this way. A different steroid or a change in the way you take your medication may help reduce these side effects.

Some people with IBD become depressed and take anti-depressants. These drugs have been linked to impotence problems. Methotrexate, an immunosuppressive drug sometimes prescribed for IBD, has also been linked to impotence. A small number of drugs sometimes used to treat IBD, including methotrexate, may affect fertility and/or the development of an unborn child. Therefore, it is very important that methotrexate should not be taken by either partner when trying to conceive, or by women when pregnant. For more information on this see our leaflets, IBD and Fertility and IBD and Pregnancy.

The way that some drugs are taken for IBD may affect sex. For people with IBD affecting the lower part of the colon and rectum, mesalazine and steroids may be given as topical treatments by enema or suppository that apply drugs directly to the affected area in the bowel. Enemas use a specially designed applicator (containing the drug as a liquid or foam) that is inserted into the anus (back passage) and reaches into the colon. Suppositories are small ‘bullet-like’ capsules of drug inserted into the rectum via the anus. Your IBD team might suggest you take these just before you go to sleep, which could affect when you have sex. You might want to time sex earlier so that it doesn’t affect taking your medication.

Speak to our IBD team if you have any concerns about how and when to take your medication, and what effects this might have.