Objective: We sought to evaluate whether there are unique characteristics associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) within a population that has chronic pelvic pain.
Methods: This cross-sectional study of new referral patients attending a pelvic pain clinic between 1993 and 2000 (N = 987) evaluated characteristics associated with IBS at entry to the clinic. The characteristics that we evaluated included demographic characteristics, clinical diagnoses, history of abuse, depression, pain, and prior abdominal surgeries.
Results: Thirty-five percent of chronic pelvic pain patients had IBS defined by Rome I criteria. Age 40 years or older (odds ratio [OR] = 1.98, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.27, 3.11), muscular back pain (OR = 5.37, 95% CI: 0.98, 29.29), Symptom Checklist-90 global index score in top quartile (OR = 1.77, 95% CI: 1.09, 2.86), depression (OR = 1.93, 95% CI: 1.24, 3.01), 6 or more pain sites (OR = 1.67, 95% CI: 1.01, 2.78), and history of adult physical abuse (OR = 1.51, 95% CI: 1.01, 2.26) were associated with IBS in the final reduced multivariable model.
Conclusion: Specific characteristics distinguish women with IBS suggesting that IBS and chronic pelvic pain are not simply manifestations of the same disorder. Our findings could help physicians attempt to effectively treat women with IBS and chronic pelvic pain. Physicians could diagnose and treat IBS in conjunction with treatment for chronic pelvic pain.