IBS In Men

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), is more common in women than in men, so IBS in men has not been studied nearly as much as IBS in women. One study did show that diarrhea predominant IBS is the most common type of IBS among men. In a study of the role of gender in IBS, it was found that after feeling discomfort or pain, men with IBS had more frequent bowel movements than women.1 The bowel movements were frequently loose, mushy or watery stools.1 Further, women experienced more nausea than men.


In another study comparing IBS symptoms between men and women,  no differences were found in depression, pain, stool frequency, impact on daily life, or dissatisfaction with bowel habit.2 Women had harder stools, more sever bloating, lower sense of coherence, and lower quality of life. Women also had more general anxiety, and more gastrointestinal-specific anxiety. However, fewer men sought medical help due to the social stigma of IBS. Therefore, it’s possible that more men than women with IBS may go untreated.

The Role of Hormones

The role of hormones in IBS is generally studied because IBS occurs more frequently in women than in men. There may be a connection between male sex hormones, such as androgens, and IBS. Androgen levels are higher in males than females. It’s possible that androgens protect against the development of chronic pain disorders, like IBS. Testosterone, a type of androgen, may provide a numbing effect in response to pain. Due to the elevated levels of sex hormones in young men, it may play a role in the development of IBS in young men compared to older men. Increased levels of androgens, in particular testosterone, have been shown to decrease pain in both men and women.3

Written by: Truc Thanh | Last reviewed: June 2016.
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