Symptoms and health experience in irritable bowel syndrome with focus on men

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2022 Nov;34(11):e14430. doi: 10.1111/nmo.14430. Epub 2022 Sep 8.


Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder with a predominance in women; IBS in men is less studied. The present study evaluated symptoms as well as health and social experiences of men with IBS.

Methods: This cross-sectional study included 293 patients with IBS (64 men) and 363 non-IBS controls (62 men). Gastrointestinal symptom diaries were filled in prospectively, and data on comorbidities and healthcare-seeking behavior were assessed by questionnaires. Men with IBS were compared with men without IBS and women with IBS.

Key results: Compared with women with IBS, men with IBS had fewer contacts with the healthcare system, fewer psychiatric comorbidities, fewer sleeping problems, and less chronic pain. Urgency to defecate and nausea were less common, and stool frequency was higher in men with IBS. There was no difference between men with and without IBS in terms of educational level, satisfaction with household economy, or living with a partner. In contrast, women with IBS more often lived alone, were more often dissatisfied with household economy, and had a lower educational level than women without IBS. Men with IBS had the same proportion of full-time employment as men without IBS but in contrast, the proportion of women with IBS in full-time employment was only 34%, compared to 50% of the women without IBS.

Conclusion and inferences: The present study improves the understanding of men's experiences of IBS and suggests that sex and gender may be integrated into the biopsychosocial model of IBS.

Keywords: gastrointestinal symptoms; gender; irritable bowel syndrome; men; sex; socioeconomic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome* / epidemiology
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome* / psychology
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires