Hormonal influences on the gastrointestinal tract and irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder of gastrointestinal (GI) function that affects more women than men in most Western countries. Often among women, symptoms of IBS appear to be related to hormone status (e.g., menstruating, pregnant, menopausal, taking oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy). In some women, symptoms wax and wane in concert with their menstrual cycle. One potential explanation for the observed variability in IBS symptoms is that sex hormones affect GI motility and function. The purpose of this review is to describe the growing body of evidence that supports a role for sex hormones in the pathophysiology and/or symptom presentation of IBS.