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Gender Differences in IBS — an article on the Smart Living Network
May 5, 2009 at 3:55 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Gender Differences in IBS


Irritable Bowel Syndrome is the most common chronic disorder in the United States. It affects millions of people. Twice as many of these people are women. IBS is perceived largely as a women's issue, even though men do suffer also. The differences take on a wide variety of aspects:

Emotional Differences

  • Women are more likely to have depression and anxiety than men.

Social Differences

  • Women seek treatment more often than men.
  • Men have a higher pain threshold and may not be as affected by the pain.
  • Women are more conditioned to see a doctor because of past experiences with (more than likely) a gynecologist.

Physical Differences

  • Response to pain varies greatly in men and women. Women are more sensitive to certain types of time than men.
  • Chemical Differences
  • Women have said IBS pain is worst during certain times of their menstruation cycle. Male hormones could protect men from IBS.
  • Men with lower levels of testosterone experienced worst symptoms of IBS.

Does IBS affect women and men differently?

Even though both women and men can experience symptoms of IBS, twice as many women do. The issue of gender is significant in IBS, and the symptoms can be more severe in females, as well as requiring more medication. For many women taking steps to help menstrual cramps also helps period-related IBS. Some treatments include: exercise, abdominal packs, and muscle relaxing herbs.

Do women face more difficulties with IBS?

  • Women are more prone to constipation.
  • Colonoscopies are more painful and difficult for women.
  • Anxiety/Depression with IBS more prone to women.

What are treatments for IBS and are they different for men and women?

Treatments are the same for both men and women. Prescription IBS drugs are gender specific, but other remedies (such as natural treatments) are the same for both sexes.

What is an IBS diet?

There is a recommended set of guidelines on how to eat safely for IBS. This includes a do list and a don't list. On the do list: soluble fiber, rice, potatoes, pasta, and oatmeal. The don't list includes many things that could be either a stimulant or an irritant to your digestive tract. For many people this includes alcohol, carbonated beverages, caffeine, coffee, high fats and insoluble fiber.

So what do you recommend for do foods?

Certain foods you can enjoy without stressing about triggering your IBS Symptoms! Here is a list of foods that are yummy and safe:

  • Lean Meats. Chicken (grilled) salmon, and possibly steak.
  • White Pizza sans greasy toppings. White pizza has no sauce, so it could be enjoyed by IBS sufferers. Make sure to leave out any greasy toppings such as pepperoni, and instead try nutritious and scrumptious veggies instead.
  • Non-acidic salads. Try green, leafy salads as an alternative to french fries or as a starter. Avoid tomatoes, spicy salads, and dressings that could have a negative affect on you.
  • Pasta and Rice dishes sans sauce. Avoid the red sauce, and go for the white sauce!

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