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Intestinal Surgery Could Raise Women's Infertility Risk

In colitis patients, procedures tripled the odds compare to drug therapy.

THURSDAY, June 15, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- An analysis of eight previously published studies shows a link between major intestinal surgery and infertility, U.S. researchers report.

Women who underwent a procedure called "ileal pouch anal anastomosis" to treat their ulcerative colitis were 48 percent more likely to be infertile. That's much higher than the 15 percent risk of infertility observed in women who received drug treatment for the disease instead.

Ulcerative colitis causes an inflammation of the lining of the large intestine, which results in severe diarrhea and rectal bleeding. Ileal pouch anal anastomosis is an often-necessary surgery to alleviate symptoms of ulcerative colitis, and involves removing the lower large intestine and replacing it with a small, artificial pouch built from the small intestine.

Since all patients seemed to be at equal risk of infertility, no other factors about patient history or the procedure seemed to be the cause of the increase in infertility. Researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, noted that the surgery may cause blockage or scarring of the fallopian tubes, which carry eggs to the womb.

The study was published in the June 14 online issue of Gut.

More information

The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America has more information on ulcerative colitis.

SOURCES: BMJ Specialist Journals, news release, June 14, 2006
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