BACKGROUND: Inflammatory bowel disease affects all aspects of life, yet little is known about the impact of the condition on intimacy and sexuality, and if such concerns should be discussed with healthcare professionals. This hermeneutical phenomenological study aimed to explore the experiences of people living with inflammatory bowel disease discussing their sexuality concerns with healthcare professionals. METHODS: Participants (n=43) aged 17-64 years were recruited. Data were collected via in depth interviews and anonymous narrative accounts (Google Forms). Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data. RESULTS: An overarching theme These discussions aren't happening with four main themes were generated. The main themes were: I can't image talking about sex; I am a person not my IBD; We need to talk about sex, and Those who talked about sex, talked badly. Participants described the lack conversations with their healthcare professionals on sexual wellbeing issues, in spite of the importance they gave to the topic, and identified barriers to having such conversations. They made suggestions for future clinical practice that would better meet their needs. The few who had discussed sexual wellbeing issues with healthcare professionals reported negative experiences. CONCLUSION: Patients' needs and preferences about addressing concerns related to their sexual well-being during clinical appointments should be addressed routinely and competently by healthcare professionals. Understanding the implications of inflammatory bowel disease on intimate aspects of the lives of those living with the condition could improve the quality of the care provided.
J Crohns Colitis
IBD, healthcare professionals, interviews, intimacy, sexuality, well-being