Horrific Period Pain With Crohn’s

Us women can all agree, that whether you have Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, our symptoms love to ramp up during our menstrual cycles. Isn't it horrible? I noticed this when I was first diagnosed and I remember bringing it up to my gastroenterologist and saying that whenever I got my period my Crohn's symptoms worsened. 

Can my period trigger a Crohn's flare?

Oftentimes, I would flare up during my period. At the time, I was so new to the diagnosis and very naïve to how the medical world works. Immediately, my doctor told me my ovaries had nothing to do with my digestive system. Yikes.

Sadly, he was very wrong. After years of seeing different doctors and doing my own research, it became very clear that yes, your period affects your Crohn's. We have to remember that our bodies function as a whole. Nothing is compartmentalized. When one area suffers, another area gets compromised in some way.

Hormones can affect Crohn's symptoms

I saw a naturopathic medical doctor and he explained to me that absolutely my Crohn's will act up during my period because of hormones. The hormones that are released during the menstrual cycle effect our entire bodies including our digestive systems. And this made total sense! I thought back to the days when I was healthy and I remember sometimes I would have lose stool during my period. Why? Hormones!

So yes, if you too have been looked at like you have five heads for asking this question, you are right. Your period will affect your symptoms and going into a flare can be expected.

Terrible menstrual cramps

The last couple of years, the intensity of my menstrual cramping and pain ramped up tenfold. This was concerning to me. Thankfully, I have always had a regular cycle and I would get cramps, but nothing a little Tylenol couldn't fix. The past couple of years, however, I get my period and I am knocked out. I literally cannot get out of bed, I need a heating pad, I am in the fetal position, and sometimes I even vomit due to the pain. It is excruciating and literally unbearable. I felt like something was going on.

In turn, I made an appointment with my gynecologist and had an ultrasound done. Lo and behold, I had a cyst the size of a golf ball on my left ovary! Ugh, I was heartbroken. Great, I already have to deal with all the complications of Crohn's and now this. Issues with my ovaries. 

Upon further investigation and many follow-up ultrasounds afterward, it was concluded that I am now prone to developing cysts each month. Which is actually normal, but mine tend to be large, which isn't normal. The half-good news for me is that they tend to go away with each month, but then another will appear.

Cysts plus Crohn's

My gynecologist told me getting on birth control would control the cysts, but for me personally, being on so many meds for Crohn's already, I didn't want to add another pill to the bunch. So I decided to see my naturopathic medical doctor (NMD) about this matter. 

He told me I was producing too much estrogen which was the reason why I was developing these cysts.  He gave me a supplement to control it. I then went back to my gynecologist for imaging and I kid you not: no cysts! Such a win!

I now take this supplement daily. I don't know how long for, as that is something I will have to ask my NMD but for now, my periods feel back to normal again.

Talk to your doctor about period pain

I wanted to share my story to give hope to anyone who is concerned they could have endometriosis or something more serious. I highly suggest seeing your gynecologist and asking for imaging to get to the bottom of any pain or irregularities you may have related to your period. Knowing what is going on in your body gives you peace of mind and clarity for proper treatment.

Have you dealt with horrific period pain? Did you end up having a cyst or something else? Comment below, we love to hear from you.

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