Could problems in the bedroom come from our intestines? A preliminary study of IBS and its impact on female sexuality

Psychiatr Danub. 2019 Sep;31(Suppl 3):561-567.


Introduction: Female sexuality may be affected by many somatic and psychological factors. Somatic conditions have impact on psychological well-being. We assumed that chronic disease like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), when producing the long-term distress, may greatly influence sexual functioning.

Aim: The aim of this study was to determine whether the severity of IBS influences sexual functions of women and take into consideration other factors like Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) comorbidity and duration of IBS.

Subjects and methods: Study patients were recruited by contacting IBS patients at Gastroenterology Ward of Clinical University Centre in Katowice. The survey consisted of 3 parts. The first part were socio-demographic questions. The second part was polish translation of Female Sexuality Functions Index (FSFI) questionnaire. The third part consisted of questions about the patient condition, pharmacotherapy and Irritable Bowel Syndrome Severity Score (IBSSS) questionnaire. 307 women were included in the study and completed the questionnaire. 143 participants were diagnosed with IBS. The mean age of participants was 27 (IQR=23-33). 29% of the patients (n=41) had severe, 47% (n=68) moderate and 24% (n=34) mild IBS.

Results: The prevalence of sexual dysfunctions was greater in women with IBS (48%) than in healthy control group (23%) (p<0.001). The median of FSFI was: 30.1 (26.3-32.8) for healthy control group, 30 (23.5-32.6) for mild IBS, 26.2 (22.2-31.6) for moderate and 24.4 (20.1-28.9) for severe.

Conclusion: IBS decreases all domains of women sexual activity. Severity of sexual dysfunctions relate to intensity of IBS symptoms. All physicians treating IBS-patients should take sexual dysfunctions into their clinical consideration.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacterial Infections / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology
  • Intestines / physiopathology
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / complications*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / microbiology
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / psychology*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / complications*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / physiopathology
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / psychology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / complications*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / psychology
  • Sexuality / psychology*