“Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition that affects the digestive system. It can cause symptoms such as bloating, stomach cramps, constipation and diarrhoea, making the condition difficult to live with.
“While the exact cause is unknown, IBS has been linked to stress, oversensitive nerves in your gut, or having a family history of the condition,” says Dr Ayesha Akbar, Consultant Gastroenterologist at London Digestive Centre, part of The Princess Grace Hospital and HCA Healthcare UK.
“It’s common for women who suffer with IBS to notice changes in the symptoms of their menstrual cycle. While the connection between IBS and the process of menstruation is not clear-cut, it’s thought to be the result of changes in hormones, which fluctuate significantly throughout the menstrual cycle.”
“Women who suffer with IBS are likely to experience more severe symptoms during their menstrual cycle. This includes cramping, fatigue or backache.”
“Women with irritable bowel syndrome are more likely to have painful menstruation, or chronic pelvic pain during their period.”
Bloating and constipation
“Many women living with IBS find that bloating and constipation worsen following ovulation, which takes places around day 14 of the cycle. This can last until the beginning of their period.”
Loose bowel movements
“GI symptom changes related to the menstrual cycle are common in women in general. However, those with irritable bowel syndrome are more likely to experience an exacerbation of bowel symptoms, including diarrhoea.”
Improvement following the menopause
“The menopause causes the levels of sex hormones in women to stop fluctuating. In turn, those with IBS tend to notice improvements in their symptoms following the menopause.”