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IBS Quick Tip!

Help For IBS
Help Women, Hormones, and IBS?    Share Share Share

Hello -

  • Most women suspect that hormone fluctuations affect their IBS. Research shows this is true.

  • Women have a higher prevalence of IBS than men.

  • Women with IBS also have more severe symptoms and need more medications than men.

    • Why? Might be sex-related differences in brain responses to visceral (body) and psychological (mind) stressors, as well as hormonal influences.

    • Small-bowel transit, gastric emptying, and colonic transit times are all significantly different for women (even women without IBS) than for men.

    • Estrogen receptors in the stomach and small intestine react to changing levels of hormones.

  • Periods? Bad News for IBS. Many women with IBS find that menstruation worsens IBS pain and bloating, and increases diarrhea as well.

    • High progesterone levels that trigger menstrual cramps can also cause bowel spasms. Why? Both the uterus and the bowel are smooth muscle tissue.

    • This is a really unfair experience for many women, who have to endure painful IBS cramps on top of painful menstrual cramps.

  • What helps?

  • Birth control pills and hormone-releasing IUDs can lessen cramps and associated IBS flares for some women. Ask both your GI doc and your ob/gyn about options.

  • See more research on hormones and IBS.

Tip Takeaway: Hormones play a significant role in IBS. But, hormonal fluctuations that affect IBS for the worse are typically temporary, and there active steps you can take to counteract them!

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