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Does the menstrual cycle affect irritable bowel syndrome?

ANSWER

Because these hormones rise and fall throughout the month, it makes sense that they can affect IBS symptoms.

IBS worsens as hormone levels fall. Late in your cycle, you’re more likely to get bloated and maybe get constipated or have diarrhea. As hormone levels fall to the lowest point during menstruation, symptoms -- like stomach pain, discomfort, and constipation or diarrhea-- become more common and intense. To make matters worse, folks with IBS who have painful periods, a condition called dysmenorrhea, are twice as likely to have these more-intense symptoms.

SOURCES:

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: “Irritable Bowel Syndrome.”

UNC Center for Functional GI & Motility Disorders: “Hormones and IBS.”  

Patricia Raymond, MD, associate professor of clinical internal medicine, Eastern Virginia Medical School; spokesperson, American College of Gastroenterology.

Richard Benya, MD, gastroenterologist; professor of medicine, Loyola University Medical School.

Mulak, A. World Journal of Gastroenterology, March 2014.

Bharadwaj, S. Gastroenterology Report, March 2015.

Chen, T.  American Journal of Physiology, January 1995.

Heitkemper, M. Gender Medicine, supplemental issue, 2009.

Chang, L. The American Journal of Gastroenterology, December 2001.  

Cleveland Clinic Foundation: “Menstrual Cycle.”

Olafsdottir, L. Gastroenterology Research and Practice, December 2011.

Triadafilopoulos, G. Women Health, 1998.

Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar on September 15, 2019

SOURCES:

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: “Irritable Bowel Syndrome.”

UNC Center for Functional GI & Motility Disorders: “Hormones and IBS.”  

Patricia Raymond, MD, associate professor of clinical internal medicine, Eastern Virginia Medical School; spokesperson, American College of Gastroenterology.

Richard Benya, MD, gastroenterologist; professor of medicine, Loyola University Medical School.

Mulak, A. World Journal of Gastroenterology, March 2014.

Bharadwaj, S. Gastroenterology Report, March 2015.

Chen, T.  American Journal of Physiology, January 1995.

Heitkemper, M. Gender Medicine, supplemental issue, 2009.

Chang, L. The American Journal of Gastroenterology, December 2001.  

Cleveland Clinic Foundation: “Menstrual Cycle.”

Olafsdottir, L. Gastroenterology Research and Practice, December 2011.

Triadafilopoulos, G. Women Health, 1998.

Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar on September 15, 2019

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