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After Menopause, IBS Lessens in Women
      11/04/03 03:34 PM
HeatherAdministrator

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After Menopause, Women Have Same Severity of Irritable Bowel Syndrome As Men
By Maggie Schwarz

BALTIMORE, MD -- October 15, 2003 -- The higher severity of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) that women experience in comparison with men diminishes after menopause, according to a study of over 800 patients.

Researchers compared severity of IBS symptoms and IBS-specific impairment of quality of life in 826 women and men with the syndrome. Olafur S. Palsson, PsyD, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States, reported their findings here October 12th at the 68th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology.

Dr. Palsson explained that women have more severe symptoms of IBS, they need more medications, and they go to the doctor more than men with IBS.

To determine whether this greater severity changes with age, the investigators obtained responses to a questionnaire from 638 women and 188 men who were diagnosed with functional bowel disorders and met Rome II criteria for IBS. Their ages ranged from 18 to 76 years (mean 51.9 years). The questionnaires included the IBS Severity Index and the IBS and poorer quality of life (QoL) questionnaire.

Results showed that after the age of 50, the severity of IBS symptoms in women and men is identical. Women in postmenopausal age groups (50+ years of age) had significantly less severity overall for IBS (P<0.0001), abdominal pain (p<0.0001) and bloating (P<0.001), and had higher quality of life scores on the QOL (P<0.05), compared to younger women.

Women younger than 50 had higher IBS severity scores compared to same-age men, but these differences disappeared in older age groups.

Overall IBS-QOL scores were not significantly different between the genders in any age group. However, analysis of the eight content subscales of the IBS-QOL, controlling for IBS severity differences, showed that women differed from men on two scales, with more impaired scores on body image (P<0.05) and food avoidance (P<0.01).

Dr. Palsson said the reduced severity of IBS symptoms after menopause is due to the drop in sex hormones, which are known to make IBS symptoms worse. "Three-quarters of women with IBS say their IBS symptoms are worse during menses," he said.

The research should help physicians take the effect of the menstrual cycle into account when treating women with IBS, Dr. Palsson said.

The study was supported by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.


[Study title: IBS Severity and Health-Related Quality of Life Improve With Age in Women But Not in Men. Abstract 81]

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