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IBS and Sex Life: How IBS Affects Sex and Relationships

IBS and Sex Life How IBS Affects Sex and Relationships

Does your stomach feel like a heated warzone from time to time? Does every day feel like a lottery between feeling constipated to desperately wanting to eliminate waste?

If you’re constantly dealing with these symptoms, you may have IBS.

IBS can cast a tight grip on a man’s sex life. The symptoms of this disorder can be embarrassing and make it emotionally difficult for people to engage in sexual intercourse with their partners. Men with IBS have also reported having more sexual dysfunction symptoms compared to men without the illness.

Typically a lifelong condition, IBS is known to deteriorate a man’s sexual health and overall quality of life. Fortunately, there are ways to relieve oneself of the symptoms of this condition. 

Let’s closely examine the relationship between this gastrointestinal disorder and sexual functioning, as well as the ways men can improve their condition.

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), not to be mistaken with inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s disease, is one of the most common gastrointestinal conditions that afflicts both men and women. In fact, according to one review, the global prevalence of this digestive disorder is about 12 to 15%. Women and the elderly are more susceptible to this ailment; however, this condition can affect anyone, regardless of their race, gender, and ethnicity.

IBS is defined as a chronic disorder that affects the large intestine and digestive system. The syndrome is often characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea. These symptoms can be mild to severe and can vary from person to person. Some people with IBS may experience only sporadic episodes while others might suffer from chronic symptoms that interfere with their daily lives.

Cause of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Symptoms of IBS can be debilitating for sufferers, as they are unable to predict when their condition will flare up. People with IBS experience a disconnect between the gut and the brain, causing their colon muscles to contract and spasm uncontrollably.

The reason behind this unusual gut-brain behavior is still debated among medical professionals. Some scientists hypothesize that it’s a genetic disorder and passed down from generation to generation; others say that it’s because the nerves in the gut have become overly sensitive to food. Another group says that it’s because food passes too fast or too slow in the gut. Early childhood stress and sexual abuse is also linked as one potential cause of this disease.

Regardless of its origins, IBS continues to grapple with the everyday lives of patients who suffer from the condition. Patients feel discouraged to engage in intimate, physical activity because they fear their stomachs will act out at any second. This causes a great deal of anxiety and relationship stress for these men—which, in turn, can affect their libido or sexual desire.

The Sexual Strain on IBS Patients

IBS patients aren’t only affected on a mental or emotional level. A Taiwanese study has found that men with irritable bowel syndrome were almost three times more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction compared to men without the disease.

In the same study, it’s also been found that men who suffer from other underlying health problems also had increased risk factors when it came to developing erectile dysfunction. These disorders include:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Depression
  • Digestive and kidney diseases

According to another study, men with this chronic disease have a higher chance of suffering from both psychogenic erectile dysfunction and organic erectile dysfunction.

Psychogenic ED is defined as a type of sexual dysfunction that’s caused by psychological factors like low self-esteem rather than physical or physiological etiology. On the other hand, organic ED is the inability to sustain an erection due to more physiological reasons.

That said, there are ways that men can manage their condition. While no one can predict when IBS will flare up and kill the mood, nothing’s stopping men from taking the right preventative measures to minimize this flare-up.

How to Manage IBS

Here are some ways you can effectively manage IBS and, consequently, improve your sex life.

1. Modify Your Diet

manage irritable bowel syndrome modify diet destress communicate medication medical guidance

Some foods can aggravate IBS and cause a slew of unpleasant symptoms such as diarrhea and constipation.

If you want to tread on the safe side, here are foods that IBS patients must avoid:

  • Fried foods
  • Soft drink
  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Fibrous fruits
  • Dairy products
  • Wheat-based food

2. Find Ways to Destress

Working to the point of stress can make existing IBS symptoms, such as depression even worse. If you find yourself always anxious or stressed, it’s vital to find ways to tune out and relax.

Yoga, meditation, and aromatherapy are some of the best ways to calm your mind and body and minimize depression. Opening up to someone close such as your partner, friends, and family regarding what’s bothering you can also help you during stressful times.

3. Be Open with Your Partner

IBS can be a sensitive and shameful topic. However, it’s critical to have an honest and open conversation with your partner about sex and your experience with IBS.

Your partner should know what triggers your symptoms and how they can help you manage them. This way, they can provide the support and reassurance you need.

3. Consider New Medication

Some types of medication can cause unwanted side effects, effectively worsening your IBS symptoms.

Some of the medications that can worsen IBS include:

  1. Cough syrup
  2. Some antidepressants
  3. Antibiotics

If you notice your symptoms worsening after taking your current medication, tell your doctor. They may be able to adjust the dosage or switch you to a different type of treatment that won’t interfere with your bowels. Always consult a medical professional before altering any medications you may currently take. 

4. Seek Professional Assistance

If IBS is interfering with your daily life, you can find help from a therapist or counselor.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective treatment for IBS patients. This type of therapy can help you manage your symptoms by changing how you think and react to sexual activity and things that trigger your symptoms.

Alternatively, couple’s counseling can help if IBS is causing tension in your relationship. Counseling can help you and your partner communicate better and find new ways to cope with the challenges of IBS.

Contact a Leading Male Health Clinic for Men to Overcome Sexual Dysfunction Long Term

Contact a Leading Male Health Clinic for Men to Overcome Sexual Dysfunction Long Term

IBS is a lifelong condition that can drastically affect a man’s quality of life. While there is no cure, there are treatments that can help lessen the symptoms.

Making dietary changes, managing stress levels, and being open with your partner are some of the best ways to cope with IBS. If you find that your symptoms are interfering with your daily life, seek medical professional support to improve your sexual function.

Contact the specialists at Proactive Men’s Medical Center in Cincinnati now to schedule an appointment to have a consultation with their experienced and specially trained medical staff. We are Cincinnati’s leading men’s clinic providing ED therapy, PE therapy, Acoustic Wave therapy, hormone therapy, and much more.

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