IBS & Endometriosis: What's The Correlation?
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, and endometriosis are very common conditions, and may be related.
- IBS affects up to 20% of Americans.
- Endometriosis affects up to 1 in 15 women.
- Many women who suffer from endometriosis also have IBS.
What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder where the bowel contracts abnormally, either too quickly or too slowly. This causes abdominal pain and cramping, along with bloating, constipation, and/or diarrhea. IBS is a functional disease, which means that there are no anatomical anomalies that can confirm a diagnosis of IBS. There are no blood tests or x-rays available to diagnose IBS. Its causes cannot be seen. Instead, the condition is diagnosed by symptoms.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a serious condition in which the endometrium, or lining of the uterus, moves to other places in the body and grows. This causes pain, excessive bleeding, painful menstrual periods, and infertility. The extent of a woman's pain is not a function of the degree of tissue growth. Some women may experience extreme pain and have very little extra-uterine endometrial growth, while others with extensive tissue growth may experience little to no pain.
How can Endometriosis cause IBS?
One common theory is that endometriosis causes IBS because sometimes the endometrium will travel to the bowel and grow on or outside it.
Hormones, IBS, and endometriosis
Many women report an increase in their symptoms of IBS and endometriosis with fluctuations in their hormones. This leads many researchers to think that both these conditions may be caused or at least exacerbated by hormonal fluctuations. Endometriosis usually disappears when a woman is pregnant, but reappears after she gives birth.
Treatments for IBS
Usually, IBS can be controlled by the following means:
Change in diet
- Avoid foods that cause an attack of IBS. Some common trigger foods are caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, fatty foods, dairy products
- Eat foods high in soluble fiber and essential nutrients, like: Fruits and vegetables
- Moderate amounts of exercise have been shown to help alleviate IBS. Don't overexert yourself; start out with stretching, yoga, and walking.
Treatments for Endometriosis
- Pain medications. Over the counter pain medications like ibuprofen may ease pain, but long term use can cause stomach bleeding.
- Hormone therapy. Hormone therapy may help alleviate symptoms, but often has negative side effects similar to those of menopause, including vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and night sweats.
- Surgery. The excess endometrium can be removed with surgery. Like any surgery, complications and side effects are a possibility.
- Hysterectomy. If all else fails, the uterus can be removed. This is usually effective, but it can render the woman permanently infertile. Hysterectomies usually cause menopause, and hormone therapy may be required.
Sources: http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/library/DS/00289.html http://www.drdonnica.com/faqs/00005150.htm