If you have UC, you may be wondering if birth control is right for you.

It is important to understand how inflammatory bowel disease affects your hormones, period, and contraceptive options when you are living with it.

“Don’t let UC stop you from being safe. Everything you need to know about UC, birth control and how it affects your menstrual cycle is here.”

Oral forms of birth control and hormonal therapy have been linked to a higher risk of inflammatory bowel disease, which can present itself in the form of Crohn’s disease or UC. Whether taking oral hormones actually contributes to disease development or relapse, though, is still up for debate.

Most women with IBD can safely take different forms of birth control, but those with more severe forms of UC should consider steering clear of contraceptive methods that contain estrogen, like combination pills, the patch, or the vaginal ring.

Women with more aggressive forms of IBD or UC are at risk for blood clot because birth control with estrogen can increase the risk.

It is important to remember that avoiding birth control may have more benefits in the long run, as it poses a greater risk of blood clot than pregnancy.

Women with IBD, especially in severe forms, can consider an intrauterine device (IUD) as a safe form of birth control. IUDs and UC are a good match, since studies show that IUDs don’t have any effect on the condition.

“An IUD is a small frame that is inserted into your uterus. It can help prevent pregnancies. The IUD and UC work well together because of the device’s minimal side effects.”

IUDs prevent sperm from connecting with an egg. Progestin is a hormone that prevents ovulation, which is a window during your menstrual cycle with the highest risk of getting pregnant.

If you want to stop using the IUD, it is a good option because it is easy to take out.

IUDs are not the only option for people living with UC.

“Barrier contraception is a good choice for a one-time use. The options create a barrier to sperm reaching an egg. The contraceptives, sponges, and other contraceptives are good choices for barrier birth control that won’t negatively impact UC.”

“If your birth control method doesn’t work, you can purchase emergency contraception over-the-counter or prescribed. This form of birth control should only be used as a backup.”

Birth control pills, vaginal rings, patches, and shots offer short-acting protection as well. Birth controls that adjust the levels of hormones in your body will make it less likely that you will get pregnant.

Women with severe forms of UC should ask their doctor about the risks of blood clot and contraceptives that contain estrogen.

Fluctuating hormones can impact IBD symptoms during your period. In fact, more than half of women in a study of 1,203 female patients with Crohn’s disease and UC reported worsening symptoms during menstruation.

Those with IBD may experience more painful gastrointestinal symptoms due to hormones.

Pregnancy and UC have a complicated relationship as well. Studies show that women who get pregnant during an active flare have double the risk for disease flares during pregnancy, compared to women who get pregnant at a time of remission from ulcerative colitis.

It is up for debate if this is due to hormones or not.

So far, no direct link has been found between IBD and menopause. Menopause should occur on its own if UC is in remission and periods are regular, however surgical menopause may actually improve symptoms of IBD, according to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.

It is important to consider how you manage period pain in addition to the hormones.

Advil, Motrin, and Aleve are some of the common over-the-counter menstrual pain and menstrual bleeding medications that can cause symptoms such as bloody stools, abdominal pain, and flares.

Instead, consider Tylenol to help manage period pain or symptoms of PMS. The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation recommends using up to 3,000 milligrams per day if needed to keep pain at bay.

Stress can potentially cause worsening of ulcerative colitis, so practicing self-care and relaxation during your period can go a long way in keeping the disease manageable and symptom-free.

Birth control should continue even if your doctor says otherwise.

One of the best options for birth control if you have ulcerative colitis is IUDs. IUDs and ulcerative colitis are popular with people with chronic illnesses like IBD, since they are well-known for their safety.

To learn more about contraceptive options and which plan of action is right for you, connect with your OB- GYN to discuss the pros and cons of different contraceptives and determine the best choice for you.