Menstrual Period Linked to IBS symptoms in Women

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), also called as spastic colon, may occur when there are changes of way on how the gastrointestinal tract works. It can affect both women and men, but women are likely to develop it than men. During flare-up, it could be very bothersome, affecting a lots of things. How about your menstrual period? Is there a link between the two conditions?

Fortunately IBS doesn’t cause serious damage to the GI tract. This syndrome is not a disease but it is actually only a group of symptoms that are present together – according to NDDIC /the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

Theories that explain the possible causes of IBS

The exact cause is not fully known. But studies suggest that there may be a combination between mental and physical health problems.

The following are some possible causes of irritable bowel syndrome!

The sensitivity of certain foods! Most patients report that certain beverages /foods can trigger their symptoms to flare up. Nevertheless, most people who have food sensitivity usually don’t experience clinical signs of food allergy.

Experts believe that the poor absorption of bile acids or sugars may have contribution to trigger the symptoms after eating certain foods (such as spicy-foods, foods high in fat or carbohydrates, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages).

Bacterial gastroenteritis (an infection caused by bacteria that occur in the intestines /stomach). Some patients are diagnosed with IBS after having bacterial gastroenteritis.

Experts and researchers still don’t answer with certainty to explain why gastroenteritis causes spastic colon in some people. They believe that the abnormalities and physiological problems of the GI lining may be the answer for the link of both.

About genetics – does irritable bowel syndrome run in families? The answer is not fully understood yet. But experts believe that the family history of IBS could be one of risk factors.

In other words, for people who have a family history of this disorder (particularly for the first relative degree – such as parent, brother, or sister), they are also likely to have the same condition.

SIBO /small intestinal bacterial overgrowth! In normal digestive system, there are few bacteria that live naturally in the small intestine. But some patients with irritable bowel syndrome may have a change in the type of bacteria or have an increase in the number of bacteria in their small intestine (SIBO).

Some studies found that there may be a link between SIBO and the development of IBS. But it is still unclear, more research is required!

Problems associated with gastrointestinal motor! In fact, it’s very common for the abnormal movement /motility (both either too fast or too slow movement of the colon) to be found in patients with spastic colon.

While fast movement of colon can lead to diarrhea, slow motility can cause constipation. Both diarrhea and constipation are the most common symptoms of IBS. Also, changes of sudden contractions that come & go may lead to abdominal discomfort and pain.

The wrong signals from the brain to the intestines! From all theories explained above, this may be the most popular one for the cause of irritable bowel syndrome.

The signals sent from the brain to the nerves of the intestines are very crucial to control how the gut works. When these signals go in the wrong way, this can significantly affect the way of you intestines to work!

Also patients with spastic colon are likely to have a lower pain threshold of the bowel. As a result, the brain may respond the pain signals from the intestines in different ways.

Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms in women

The symptoms include abdominal discomfort, abdominal pain, and changes in the habits of bowel movement. To meet the characteristic of IBS, the symptoms usually will:

  1. Improve after a bowel movement.
  2. Be followed with bowel movements that come less or more often than normal.
  3. Be followed with more lumpy, harder or watery (looser) stools in bowel movements.

This suggests that IBS symptoms are frequently associated with diarrhea and constipation.

Diarrhea is characterized by more often than usual of bowel movements and with looser or watery stools. In the opposite way, constipation is characterized by less often than usual of bowel movements with harder stools.

Other symptoms may include; mucus found in the stools, abdominal gas /bloating, and feeling of incomplete bowel movement.

Is IBS linked to menstrual cycle?

In women with IBS (particularly for those of childbearing age), the symptoms may often flare up during their menstrual periods. There may be a link between IBS symptoms and the reproductive hormones in women.

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