Irritable bowel syndrome is thought to affect over 25 million people in America alone, with women more likely to receive a diagnosis than men.
However, men can develop this painful condition, and it’s important to seek a diagnosis and find an effective treatment.
IBS presents similarly in both men and women, but different symptoms are more commonly reported by different genders.
Understanding IBS symptoms and what to look out for is essential for both men and women.
In this guide, we cover the most common symptoms reported by men suffering with IBS.
Although some believe men can’t develop IBS, this is inaccurate. It’s important men are aware of the potential to develop this condition, so they can find treatment.
- Related Article: IBS Symptoms in Women
IBS Symptoms in Men
As fewer men in Western countries are diagnosed with IBS, there is a lack of data to analyze. However, there are some clear symptoms of IBS in men.
These symptoms generally overlap with symptoms reported by women, although there are small differences.
Below are the symptoms of IBS most commonly reported by men.
Men commonly report experiencing diarrhea as a result of IBS. Diarrhea is characterized by frequent or loose stools, and this is accompanied by abdominal pain, which often improves after a bowel movement.
Persistent diarrhea can result in deydration, weight loss, and a loss of important nutrients. It can also be a cause of fatigue.
Constipation and bloating are more commonly reported by women struggling with IBS, but these symptoms can afflict men as well.
Characterized by hard and dry stools that are difficult to pass, constipation can also cause painful cramps, and abdominal distension.
Men and women with IBS may find they suffer from alternating constipation and diarrhea.
Although there are gender differences in which symptoms are most often reported, neither constipation nor diarrhea are exclusive to one gender.
Both men and women have reported that the symptoms of IBS have led to a lack of sex drive, and a interference in sexual relationships.
Quality of Life
Men struggling with IBS have reported a decreased quality of life. In fact, men with IBS are thought to experience more interpersonal difficulties than women with the same condition.
Feelings of sickness, a lack of support, health worries, and a lack of sexual function can all cause male IBS sufferers to struggle on a personal level.
Do Men Suffer From IBS?
It’s sometimes erroneously thought that IBS only occurs in women.
This common misconception is likely a result of more women reporting their symptoms, and women suffering from more painful symptoms.
Men can and do suffer from IBS, and in some areas of the world men are more likely to report IBS.
Exactly why men in the West are less likely to be diagnosed with IBS isn’t completely clear.
It’s important that men understand they can develop IBS, so they know to seek the right treatment and alleviate the condition.
Testosterone And IBS
One reason why men are less likely to report or develop symptoms of IBS is thought to be related to testosterone.
A study into the sex-gender differences in IBS investigated the link between androgens and chronic pain. Androgens, such as testosterone, are natural steroids.
Research has highlighted the link between testosterone and pain relief. Potentially, testosterone may lessen the painful symptoms of IBS.
This could be one reason why women report more pain related symptoms, and are more likely to be diagnosed with IBS.
Diagnosing IBS In Men
There is much debate around whether IBS is less prominent in men, or whether it’s just underreported.
As there are so many potential causes for IBS, it’s difficult to determine how sex-based characteristics may be affecting IBS.
What is clear, however, is that men can develop IBS and struggle with the condition.
If you’re male, and you find yourself regularly suffering from any of the potential symptoms of IBS, you should speak with a doctor. Unfortunately, diagnosing IBS can be difficult.
Often, a diagnosis is a result of eliminating other potential issues with overlapping symptoms.
Treating IBS in Men
Despite the potential differences, treatment for IBS is similar for both men and women. Dietary and lifestyle changes are generally used to manage the condition and alleviate the symptoms.
IBS can also be treated with medications to help alleviate symptoms.
Although once considered a primarily female issue, men can also struggle with IBS. The most common symptoms include diarrhea, and a reduced quality of life.
Many of the symptoms of IBS overlap men and women, although diarrhea appears to be more prominent in men.
Currently, there’s some debate surrounding the differences between IBS in men and women.
It’s not entirely clear whether men are less likely to develop IBS, or whether a lack of reporting has led to skewed data.
Men definitely can develop IBS, and the effects of it can be highly distressing. Any man who believes they are suffering with IBS should contact a doctor, and discuss a treatment plan.