Common IBS Symptoms in Men and Women

It is estimated that IBS effects anywhere from 25 to 45 million Americans with two-thirds of them being women. Most patients with IBS will not seek treatment and which leaves a big gap in the data available on IBS. Symptoms can vary according to each person and they can be triggered by eating certain foods or from maintaining a certain lifestyle. Although many symptoms of IBS will be the same for both men and women, some can vary. Continue reading to learn more about the varied symptoms.

General Symptoms That Affect Both Men and Women

Although more men than women report symptoms of IBS, the following is a list of the most common IBS symptoms shared by both men and women:

  • Increased or decrease the number of bowel movements
  • Stools that have mucus, liquid or are watery
  • Alternating between diarrhea and constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Lower back pain
  • Upset stomach after eating a meal
  • Nausea
  • Bloating, gas and/or pain

Research shows that men are less likely than women to report their symptoms which makes it hard to collect gender-specific data about varying symptoms. For some IBS patients, symptoms will be constant but for others, they come in cycles. In order to be diagnosed with IBS, symptoms must occur at least three days every month.

IBS Symptoms in Women

Many women with IBS will generally be diagnosed past the age of puberty in their childbearing years. Research has found that women with IBS will also report gynecologic problems. Women will have varied symptoms according to their menstrual cycles. Before and during their period women diagnosed with IBS will report experiencing stomach pain and diarrhea. Around halfway through their cycle, around day fourteen, women will report experiencing increased bloat and constipation. Women diagnosed with IBS are more likely to experience the following symptoms than men:

  • Fatigue
  • Inability to fall asleep or stay asleep
  • Sensitivity to foods
  • Amplified symptoms of PMS
  • Cramping
  • Backaches
  • Painful cramps during menstruation

Approximately one-third of women during pregnancy will report experiencing increased heartburn, nausea and constipation than from when they were not pregnant. It is believed that symptoms of IBS occur because of the pressure of the fetus against the internal organs.

IBS Symptoms in Men

Research has shown that men are less likely to report their symptoms of IBS than women. This makes it hard to gather data regarding the different symptoms of IBS in men and women. Studies indicate that because of hormonal differences, men can be less sensitive to symptoms of IBS. Men with IBS can experience issues with sexual intimacy and are likely to suffer from depression.

Studies show that IBS has similar symptoms on both men and women and can affect both in similar ways. Although it has not been scientifically verified, it is expected for pregnant women to experience in IBS flare-ups during pregnancy and menstruation. Needless to say, if you are a man or woman and are experiencing symptoms of IBS, talk to your doctor in order to get diagnosed and to come up with a plan to get relief from your symptoms.