Family planning and IBD


Exploring the experience of family planning in women with IBD and their partners


This study will benefit patients by providing a detailed account of women’s needs during key reproductive stages, and intervention development that aims to support patients and their partners

Prof Matthew Brookes, Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust

What is this research looking at? 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) often affects patients in their 20s. Many women with the condition delay starting a family, or have fewer or no children. Women with inactive IBD usually have no more difficulty becoming pregnant than women without IBD, and can expect to have a normal pregnancy and a healthy baby. The researchers want to examine why so many people with IBD choose not to have children, what concerns they have around becoming pregnant, and how they could benefit from pregnancy services specifically for people with IBD. 

The researchers plan to conduct in-depth interviews with 24-30 women with IBD who are at various stages of family planning, including those who already have children, those who are pregnant, and those who do not have children. These detailed interviews will allow women to share their experiences and concerns around starting a family. Some of the women’s partners will also be interviewed to explore their experiences. 

The findings from these interviews will be used to identify where women are lacking reliable information and support around IBD and reproduction. The researchers will use this information to draft an intervention to improve the support received by people with IBD who want to start a family. A group of patients and healthcare practitioners will then take part in a focus group to share their thoughts on the suggested intervention. This feedback will be used to further develop the proposal, to ensure it addresses all the necessary concerns people with IBD may have when deciding to have children.

What do researchers think this could this mean for people with IBD? 

This study will provide patients with an opportunity to voice what they want from reproductive services, from pre-conception to pregnancy and post-delivery. The researchers hope that this detailed account of women’s needs will raise essential awareness among healthcare professionals of key issues surrounding IBD and family planning. This could involve better information and support, which may help women and their partners make an informed choice about their family planning.

Who is leading the research: Prof Matthew Brookes, Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust
Our Funding: £72,653
Duration: 24 months
Official title of the application: The lived experience of family planning of female patients diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and their partners during key reproductive stages – a qualitative study.
Tags: Pregnancy; family planning