Sex and IBS
Last updated: December 2020
I've already discussed the fragile aspect of navigating romantic and intimate relationships when one has IBS. But that's to say nothing of the actual act of intercourse, which can also be tricky territory when dealing with IBS.
As a cis-het woman who is built very lean and has a tipped uterus, sex can seriously aggravate an IBS flare if I am already having some symptoms as intercourse can literally put pressure on my GI tract.
What sex positions are better or worse for IBS?
Some sexual positions are more likely to lead to flares than others if my IBS is in a sensitive state (like doggy style) while other positions are "safer" from an IBS standpoint (old-fashioned missionary or female superior). This doesn't mean I never switch up positions, but I am more likely to avoid those that are more likely to bring on a flare-up depending on how I am feeling IBS-wise, how long it's been since I've eaten and depending on what I've eaten, the weather, and the time of month it is (if I am menstruating or close to menstruating, my IBS is more likely to flare) and so on.
When to avoid sex to help with IBS
To go into some further detail about these aspects:Right after eating I tend to avoid intercourse if I've eaten within the past two hours or so as I find that the few times sex aggravated a flare, it was when I had just eaten. Studies have shown that engaging in high impact exercises or wearing tight clothes when or right after eating can interfere with digestion, so it makes sense that sex would/could as well. If I've gambled and eaten foods that are more likely to flare me in general (spicy or fatty foods), I am more likely to avoid sex altogether that evening in order to avoid further aggravating my gut.Hot and humid weatherIf it's very hot and humid or if I am very stressed, I might also avoid intercourse, because that makes me more likely to experience an IBS flare (and a chronic pain flare in general), and intercourse might add to that likelihood (though sometimes in certain circumstances when not rushed, it can help alleviate stress and contribute to my overall sense of well-being).However, this doesn't mean I avoid all intimacy when worried about an IBS flare. There are other ways to enjoy each other's bodies without intercourse or penetrative sex, that can still be pleasurable without putting pressure on my sensitive pelvic area and sometimes I opt for those alternatives instead.While menstruatingFinally, I also tend to avoid sex when I have my period or am just about to get it. In general, due to having endometriosis and adenomyosis, my periods tend to be extremely painful and bloody, and I am often bloated and much more vulnerable to an IBS outbreak during those days. So in general, I tend not to be in a very amorous mood while menstruating. So when I am on my period, I usually (but don't always) abstain from intercourse, in order to lessen my chances of bringing on more pain and gut-related issues when I am already suffering. It helps to have an understanding and accepting partner willing to roll with punches from day-to-day, as things can change on a dime with my body. Knowing I have that, allows me to feel relaxed and confident and in and of itself, makes flares less likely because I am in a better mindset.
Do you have trouble trying to balance your diet with multiple illnesses?
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