Men and women with IBS often have similar symptoms. Still, some symptoms like fatigue and worsened menstrual symptoms may be more common in or exclusive to women.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic digestive disorder that affects the large intestine. It can cause uncomfortable symptoms like abdominal pain, cramping, and bloating. It may also cause diarrhea, constipation, or both.
While anyone can develop IBS, the condition is more common in women, with a prevalence of
Many of the symptoms of IBS in females are the same as those in males, but some women report that symptoms get worse during their menstrual cycle.
Here’s a look at some common symptoms in women.
Constipation is a common IBS symptom. It causes infrequent stools that are hard, dry, and difficult to pass.
Diarrhea is classified as frequent loose stools, often with lower abdominal pain and cramping that improves after a bowel movement. You may also have nausea and difficulty controlling bowel movements.
The menstrual cycle may worsen IBS symptoms, and some
A 2017 study found that women with IBS were more likely to experience lower urinary tract symptoms than women without the condition.
There was an increased risk of symptoms including:
Types of pelvic organ prolapse include:
Chronic pelvic pain, which is pain below the belly button, is a common concern among women with IBS. A
Pain during intercourse and other types of sexual dysfunction are known IBS symptoms in women.
Some people with IBS
Many women also
Research indicates that IBS may cause migraine, with women in particular frequently experiencing this symptom. A
Experts still aren’t sure what causes IBS. There are several things that can increase your risk, though, including being a woman.
Other risk factors include:
- being under the age of 50
- having a family history of IBS
- experiencing stressful events early in life
- having a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety
- experiencing digestive issues after eating certain foods
- having a bacterial infection in your digestive tract
If you’re experiencing any IBS symptoms, it’s important to talk with your doctor, especially if you have a higher risk of developing IBS.
There is no definitive test for IBS. Instead, your doctor will begin with your medical history and symptoms. They may also rule out other conditions by ordering tests like:
- blood tests to check for anemia or an infection
- stool culture
- lactose intolerance test
- gluten intolerance test
Depending on your medical history, you may receive an IBS diagnosis if you experience:
- abdominal symptoms lasting at least 1 day a week for the past 3 months
- pain and discomfort linked to bowel movements
- a consistent change in the frequency of your bowel movements
- stool that looks different than in the past
Women receive IBS diagnoses more often than men do. While many of the symptoms are the same for males and females, a few are exclusive to or more prominent in women, possibly related to female sex hormones.