Pelvic floor disorders and quality of life in women with self-reported irritable bowel syndrome

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2010 Feb 1;31(3):424-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2009.04180.x. Epub 2009 Oct 23.


Background: Quality of life among women with irritable bowel syndrome may be affected by pelvic floor disorders.

Aim: To assess the association of self-reported irritable bowel syndrome with urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, sexual function and quality of life.

Methods: We analysed data from the Reproductive Risks for Incontinence Study at Kaiser Permanente, a random population-based study of 2109 racially diverse women (mean age = 56). Multivariate analyses assessed the association of irritable bowel syndrome with pelvic floor disorders and quality of life.

Results: The prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome was 9.7% (n = 204). Women with irritable bowel had higher adjusted odds of reporting symptomatic pelvic organ prolapse (OR 2.4; 95% CI, 1.4-4.1) and urinary urgency (OR 1.4; 95% CI, 1.0-1.9); greater bother from pelvic organ prolapse (OR 4.3; 95% CI, 1.5-11.9) and faecal incontinence (OR 2.0; 95% CI, 1.3-3.2); greater lifestyle impact from urinary incontinence (OR 2.2; 95% CI, 1.3-3.8); and worse quality of life (P < 0.01). Women with irritable bowel reported more inability to relax and enjoy sexual activity (OR 1.8; 95% CI, 1.3-2.6) and lower ratings for sexual satisfaction (OR 1.8; 95% CI, 1.3-2.5), but no difference in sexual frequency, interest or ability to have an orgasm.

Conclusions: Women with irritable bowel are more likely to report symptomatic pelvic organ prolapse and sexual dysfunction, and report lower quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / complications
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pelvic Floor / physiopathology*
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urinary Incontinence / etiology
  • Urinary Incontinence / psychology*
  • Uterine Prolapse / etiology
  • Uterine Prolapse / psychology*
  • Women's Health