Gay Men Twice as Likely to Develop IBD


New research indicates that gay men are at increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease.

Gay men are more than twice as likely to develop inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) than heterosexual men when both populations engage in high-risk sexual activity, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the Digestive Health Research Institute at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospital’s Cleveland Medical Center in Ohio, published their findings in the journal Gut.1

“To our knowledge, this is the first large population-based study that demonstrates a higher prevalence of IBD in men who engage in high-risk same-sex sexual activity,” said Emad Mansoor, study lead author in a news release.2 “Our study is expected to open a new field of research into gastrointestinal inflammatory conditions.”

The researchers evaluated self-reported data from patients treated at 58 health care organizations in the United States between 2002 and 2022.

In patients with a diagnosis of high-risk same-sex sexual activity, 0.8% were diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and 1.26% with ulcerative colitis, compared to 0.49% of men who engage high-risk heterosexual activity with Crohn’s disease and 0.52% with ulcerative colitis.

In addition, men who engaged in high-risk same-sex sexual activity were more likely to have peri-anal disease including peri-anal abscess, rectal abscess and stricturing disease of the colon or small intestine. Among those with severe manifestations of ulcerative colitis, men who engaged in high-risk same-sex sexual activity were more likely to undergo partial colectomy.

The researchers defined high-risk sexual activity as sexual contact without barrier protection as well as having multiple sexual partners.

The researchers will further investigate the findings and the potential role of the gut microbiome during a long-term study.

“Studying the cause of IBD in this underrepresented patient population in comparison to other patient groups will allow us to further investigate the cause of disease development in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients and develop personalized precision medicine and treatment strategies, while also reducing stigma,” said Fabio Cominelli, corresponding study author, professor, and chief scientific officer at University Hospital.


1. Mansoor, E., Martin, SA, et al. Epidemiology of inflammatory bowel disease in men with high-risk homosexual activity. Gut. September 1, 2022. Accessed November 9, 2022. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2022-328218.

2. Gay men are two times more likely to have inflammatory bowel disease, according to new research. News release. Case Western Reserve University. September 15, 2022. Accessed November 9, 2022.,University%20Hospitals%20Cleveland%20Medical%20Center%20(

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