Clothing Conundrum: What to Wear During or After an IBS Flare

Many in the general population may not realize that even something as simple as getting dressed in the morning can present a predicament for those of us with IBS or other related and/or similar medical conditions.

Clothing during IBS flare

Tighter clothing, especially those that fit too snugly around or even constrict the waist and abdominal area, can be particularly uncomfortable for those of us who often experience intestinal discomfort or complications. In fact, I have personally had experiences where it seemed tight-fitting clothes were at least partially responsible for bringing on or exacerbating an IBS flare. In particular, this becomes more of a problem right before and during my period, when I become more bloated and my GI system becomes extra sensitive. For those PMS and period days, I tend to spend more time lounging around late into the day in loose-fitting pajama pants. If (or when) I do get dressed in proper "outside" clothes, I steer clear of my tighter fitting jeans and opt for pants with loose-fitting waists, or even opt for a skirt or dress if the weather isn't too cold or wet.

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There is actually a science behind this! A neurologist told a reporter for CBS Miami in a 2012 article that there is something called "tight pants syndrome," that can actually cause or worsen gastrointestinal issues. This is because skin-tight slacks tend to put too much pressure on the abdomen, which disrupts the digestive process. In a more recent article in the LA Times from 2015, a gastroenterologist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond explicitly refers to IBS as something wearing tight clothes can aggravate (or at least, more symptomatic).

Unzipping the pants

For me, this makes it tricky because I also have a connective tissue disorder known as Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which means things are "too loose" in my body. As such, wearing compression clothing, and pants, can sometimes help relieve pain in my body, such as my low back and hips. However, I have noted that the pants become uncomfortable right after I have eaten, and I often change out of them or roll them down below the abdomen. I try to wear them when I am being active so as to prevent injury, but not so frequently that it can cause other problems. I also love to wear jeans, including tight or skinny jeans, but I like the stretchy kind and am not sheepish about taking my belt off or unzipping my pants a bit after a meal so I do not put pressure on my belly.

Have you found that tight pants can cause an IBS flare? Have you found changing up your clothing choices helps? Share in the comments below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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