PCOS and IBS: Unravelling the Connection Between Digestive Health and PCOS

What are PCOS and IBS?

IBS is the short form for the disease called irritable bowel syndrome. It is an intestinal disorder that causes pain in the stomach, wind, diarrhoea and constipation. Symptoms of IBS include cramping, abdominal pain, gas, diarrhoea or constipation, or both. 

PCOS is the short form of a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome. It is a hormonal disorder that enlarges the ovaries with small cysts on their outer edges. PCOS happens during a woman’s reproductive years. If you have PCOS, your periods may become irregular or they may last many days. You might also be producing too much of a male hormone called androgen.

If you suffer from PCOS, you may also experience IBS. These two conditions have many links between them.

The Connection between PCOS and IBS:

PCOS often occurs along with IBS. Here are several links between both of these syndromes:

Excessive hormones:

PCOS increases the levels of luteinizing hormones (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH), that help in ovulation. This prevents ovulation from occurring, thus creating irregular menstrual periods.

High levels of LH and FSH hormones can also cause IBS. Excessive amounts of these hormones can slow down the movement of food in the digestive tract, which results in constipation.

Women suffer from both:

Compared with men, women are more likely to have IBS. Therefore, the fact that you are a woman increases your risk of having both conditions. This may be because of sex hormones. Oestrogen and progesterone, two female sex hormones, may constipate the digestive system by slowing down intestinal muscle contractions. 

Inflammation:

PCOS is a cause of inflammation. This can result in inflammatory conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Treatments for PCOS and IBS:

If you think you have PCOS and IBS, it is necessary for you to talk with a primary care doctor.

You may have these conditions if you have the following symptoms:

  • Irregular or absent periods.
  • Sudden weight gain.
  • Unpredictable bowel movements.
  • Regular bloating.
  • Infertility.

If your primary care doctor believes that you have PCOS and IBS, then you will be referred to a gynaecologist and gastroenterologist. The former specializes in the female reproductive system, while the latter is specialized in the digestive system. At the Chennai PCOS Clinic we have gynaecologists who can also help you if you have IBS. If you suffer from both of these dreadful conditions, then come to us for treatment.

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