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IBS symptoms affect men differently than women

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Men with IBS have more emotional difficulty than women, study finds

Dealing with IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is difficult for anyone diagnosed with the disease. A new study highlights how the bowel disease can have an entirely different impact on men compared to women. Which gender is affected more severely and why is it important?


According to the study, “Understanding gender differences in IBS: the role of stress from the social environment,” presented during the Oct. 19 poster session at the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) annual meeting in Philadelphia, men have more interpersonal difficulties with the disease than women.

Researchers from University at Buffalo discovered me with IBS tend to experience personality changes that could hinder how they relate to their physicians; in turn having an impact on how men are treated for the disease.

Little known about how men experience IBS

Researchers say there is not much; known about how IBS affects men, given that twice as many women have the disease, compared to males.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common disorder that causes abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation and can be disabling. Researchers are still uncertain how IBS develops.

Treatment has been to control symptoms, which can sometimes be difficult, though advances have been made in medical therapy.

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The current study showed there is little difference in IBS symptoms between men and women, but contrary to previous study findings, men are more likely to experience difficulty with relationships and social support.

Men with IBS more hostile than women

For the study 284 men with IBS answered questions designed to measure severity of IBS symptoms, social support and interpersonal relationship status,

Men and women report the same level of distress related to IBS. But compared to women, men were more likely have more fights with others, keep people at a distance, experience more negative social interactions, lower quality relationships and less social support.

The study authors say the finding is important because it could influence how doctor's treat men with IBS, interfering with "sound doctor-patient relationships".

Citation: Elyse Thakur MA, Michael Gurtman PhD, Gregory Gudleski PhD, Laurie Keefer PhD, Darren Brenner MD, Silpa Mandava MD, Jeffrey Lackner PsyD. UNDERSTANDING GENDER DIFFERENCES IN IBS: THE ROLE OF STRESS FROM THE SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT. Program No. P506. ACG 2014 Annual Scientific Meeting Abstracts. Philadelphia, PA: American College of Gastroenterology.

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Imagine if this article was was written by a man about women with IBS. We all know how hostile, and socially dysfunctional those men are!
Well, the researchers were men and women. And they reviewed both male and female questionnaire answers. Not sure at all what you mean John.
Well I'm a man and have to say I have absolutely no issues talking to my doctor about my symptoms. Im in pain a lot. It is more distressing than any bowel movement change. But I do find I've isolated my self from many things like social activity(not due to fear of urgent need for a restroom) but because the pain depresses me. I want to be left alone. No stress around me at all. I find I get angry and hostile about the diagnosis. The doctors are worthless and so are their remedies. I usually experience the same pain patterns as my female counterparts. Typically constant level of left abdominal pain(no not lower left but directly left of my umbilical area just under rib cage),now getting left side back pain daily almost. More D type but alternating more as of late. So the article is primarily true. I can see many men including myself not opening up to the doctors any more because we know they don't really know wtf to do for you!! I can talk to my dog about my symptoms and get just as reliable help as I can my schmuck doctor.
I just turned 43 last March and have been living with IBS most of my life. The last few years I started to really exercise rigorously with intense cardio and lifting 4 days a week and a kale salad dinner. This has helped tremendously as I leaned out and trimmed down to my high school weight. I still have my episodes though and rather not date or be with any girl to I'm too embarrassed of my IBS attacks (happened in the past and hid it from a great girl and ruined our relationship). I just stay at home on the weekends and work on my classic Chevy an keep to myself. I avoid going out as much as I can do to the fear and anxiety of an attack. Pretty pathetic I know, though that's the cards I was dealt and as my 3 siblings (older and younger sister and younger brother) have happy marriages with children, I live isolated as they are close to each other and embarrassed of their brother (me). Trust me there are many dark days I think of ending it because I'm a prisoner to IBS though chicken out at the last minute :_-(
Does male with IBS-D have foul gas order? I think my husband might have IBS-D he has all the symptoms.