Women have bad bowel than men and that’s wrong


It’s like your digestive system is a ticking time bomb. It explodes when you least expect it or want it to.”

They’re the words of Jo Bambagiotti, a Sydney woman long afflicted with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) — a struggle she says she’s proud to share, often in graphic detail.

“There is nothing like the sheer panic when I realise my meal had hidden onion and garlic [which trigger my IBS], and I’m in a social setting,” she tells Coach.

“I’m going to be sitting there very uncomfortable for the rest of the night. I’ll be holding in farts, and not really paying attention to what people are saying,” she says.

“I’ll be freaking out that when I stand up from this table, I’ll look six months pregnant from the bloating. ” Miss a chunk of conversation as I leave to find the bathroom, and stay there for what’s clearly a number two.”

What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Bambagiotti’s struggles make it pretty obvious that the “irritable” in irritable bowel syndrome is an understatement — like describing World War II as a spat. This condition is painful, debilitating, all-consuming, and characterised by brutal symptoms: cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, constipation and diarrhoea.

According to the Gastro enterological Society of Australia, the underlying cause of IBS is a mystery, though particular triggers worsen the condition.

“Food choices, caffeine intake, exercise — or lack of — and chronic stress are the most common triggers of IBS,” says Larina Robinson, accredited practicing dietitian from The Body Dietetics.

Women are harder hit by IBS than men, though the reason for that is a mystery too (though there are several theories). According to Robinson, IBS symptoms tend to manifest different across the sexes: “The diarrhea-dominant type tends to be more common in men, while constipation-dominant or alternating types are more common in women,” she tells Coach.

Abdominal distention with bloating (aka looking six months pregnant) is also more common in women, though IBS bloating is a different beast to everyday bloating.

“We can all get bloating simply from eating too quickly, drinking fizzy drinks, or eating too much,” Robinson says.

“It becomes problematic and more a symptom of IBS when it occurs regularly over a longer period of time. If you’ve had bloating for a while, it’s best to have it checked out by your doctor.”

The doctor bit is key, because we all have that friend who insists they’ve been brought low by a gastrointestinal problem (be it IBS, a gluten intolerance or some other malady) after spending a few hours on Google.

“It’s really important not to self-diagnose,” Robinson cautions. “The symptoms of IBS can be linked to a range of other digestive issues and even some cancers.”

What happens after you’re diagnosed with IBS?

Robinson explains the current best practice is a diet low in FODMAPs, an acronym that’s rapidly going mainstream: it describes a class of carbohydrates found in all kinds of foods, which some people’s intestines can’t absorb properly. The result? IBS symptoms.

According to the Dietitians Association of Australia, three out of four IBS sufferers successfully treat the condition by going low-FODMAP, and the approach can deliver results in weeks.

Other best practices for IBS include gentle, regular exercise as well as stress-management techniques — because, according to Robinson, stress is one of the biggest factors behind IBS.

“The gut is directly linked to the brain via the vagus nerve and it’s a two-way chat,” she says. “When your gut health is out of whack, it can affect your mental health, and vice versa.

“Stress impacts your digestion in a number of ways which can worsen or trigger your IBS symptoms.”


Leave A Reply