• Welcome to Crohn's Forum, a support group for people with all forms of IBD. While this community is not a substitute for doctor's advice and we cannot treat or diagnose, we find being able to communicate with others who have IBD is invaluable as we navigate our struggles and celebrate our successes. We invite you to join us.

5 Things Gay Men Should Know About Crohn's Disease


"Crohn's Disease is no laughing matter. It is a debilitating autoimmune disease that ravages through your gastrointestinal system like a piranha attacked to a fireball. It's painful and disgusting. It's hurtful and causes massive anxiety. It makes you feel like you want to rip every part of your body out in one swoop, but you know that's not a reality. Plainly spoken, it hurts... really bad.

In case you were wondering, I have Crohn's Disease. Mine isn't as bad as others, but it's still pretty painful. It's even more painful when you have to discuss Crohn's with a potential partner or your partner. There's no real stigma involved, but it's difficult to explain to someone that because there are no physical manifestations of serious illness, Crohn's is very much alive inside of you and it affects an area of your body that we typically use for pleasure.

In that respect, it's hard to explain to your partner that you don't feel like having sex this week because well, it hurts. It's not because of anything they're doing wrong, but it becomes a delicate balance that has to be respected not only for your health, but the health of your relationship.

Infrequently, I have to have a discussion with my partner about how much pain I'm experiencing. It's difficult because you watch someone who loves you feel completely and utterly helpless because there's nothing they can do to relieve the pain you have, even for a fleeting moment. I've watched time and time again as my boyfriend, Jared, looks at me as I'm squirming and screaming because I decided to eat a salad and the greens completely destroyed me or most recently, a red onion.

Here's a quick list of things you should know when you're dating someone who has Crohn's Disease:

1. If they reject your food, it isn't because they don't like it, it's because they can't eat it.

Nine times out of ten, when I go over to a friend's house for dinner, I can't eat what they've made. It makes me feel like a bad guest and extremely rude. Our dietary restrictions are innumerable (unless of course you have colostomy bag, which alleviates a lot of pain and guesswork in the dietary department). We sometimes follow a diet called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet which is similar to a modified form of paleo. In it, you'll see things that you eat on the regular that we cannot, including potatoes and everyone's favorite, vodka.

2. If they tell you that they are in pain, believe them.

It's no joking matter. In some cases, pain can get so severe that we end up hospitalized and have to have portions of our intestines removed. The disease warrants immediate use of morphine in the hospital and its ravaging nature makes it incredibly painful until whatever has caused the pain has subsided.

3. Almost anything can trigger the disease's nasty effects.

Crohn's can be triggered by excess stress, anxiety, stress placed on the body (some forms of workouts) and eating foods that are not good for us. Some of you might say, "Oh, well, just follow your diet!" It's not that easy. A lot of the foods that you take for granted, even granola, are forbidden on some of our diets. Fibers, greens, etc. are not permitted. Neither is coffee and several forms of alcohol.

4. Sex can sometimes be really, really painful.

Anal sex, especially, can be extremely painful for Crohn's patients. Most of my friends that have Crohn's (and Colitis) and I have an insatiable libido, but when it comes to having anal intercourse, well, sometimes that's just not a reality. The pain that is experienced is astronomical. It's just not worth it in the end. We often times need partners who can respect that boundary and can understand why it hurts so badly.

5. Try not to feel helpless when we're in pain.

It's hard not to feel helpless for someone you love when they're in pain. If you have any semblance of empathy, that's going to be difficult. Most of us just want someone to grab the bottle of pain killers and a bottle of water and let us ride out the storm. (And if you're me, you just want to be held until it's over.) Just be supportive and as helpful as possible.

While Crohn's Disease is painful, it is completely possible for us to live normal, functioning lives. While the disease hurts, it can be lived and dealt with. We have good days and bad days, but most of the time, we're just grateful we're not in the hospital.

For more information on Crohn's Disease (and Ulcerative Colitis, its cousin), go to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America."



A pointless personal pet peeve: CROHN'S IS NOT AN AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE, IT'S AN IMMUNE MEDIATED IMMUNODEFICIENCY DISORDER. Autoimmune means "there is literally a genetic error that says light this part of the human body on fire" I think the article is really good otherwise. That's just my personal pet peeve, like people who use "theory" when the word they want is "hypothesis"
As a gay man that is dating a man with Crohn's disease, this post is exactly what I need to know...I have no idea where my new relationship will lead me but I guess I need to confront this head on and let "him" know that I care more about him than myself. He is still very secretive about his condition and I was taking his actions personally. huge relief for me because I was thinking that maybe I was not the one he has been looking for... Well, I am and I am going to tell him so. I am not certain how I will convince him that I will not run like his last long term relationship of 18 years did two years ago... I knew from our conversations that he had been deeply hurt but I am just now getting a clearer picture of what he goes through...thank you for providing this platform, I found you while researching Crohn's disease on Healthline.