Hormones are a very important factor to consider when trying to determine the irritable bowel syndrome ovarian cyst link. Since women are more affected by the irritable bowel syndrome and intestinal disorders compared to men, and ovarian cysts only affect women, gender-sensitive issues regarding diagnosis, pathophysiology and interventions have been specifically designed.
Ovarian cysts are usually considered a functional disorder, which means that they develop when a normal function of the body works abnormally, and they form only during the years that a women is ovulating regularly. It is still possible to acquire a cyst later in life, but it would have formed initially when the woman was still ovulating.
Irritable bowel syndrome is also considered a functional disorder. There are a number of theories about the cause, and although there are trigger factors that have been identified, the cause of IBS is still a mystery.
Some studies have shown that a person, who has irritable bowel syndrome, suffers from a brain-gut abnormality due to faulty communication between the two areas of the body. It is believed that communications get confused, causing hypersensitivity in the colon.
One common symptom present in both irritable bowel syndrome and functional ovarian cysts is abdominal pain. The pain experienced by individuals having irritable bowel syndrome is mainly caused by gas accumulation from swallowed air and formation of gas from microorganisms and digested food, which exerts pressure on the intestinal tract and the colon. The pressure can make the distended intestines come into contact with the ovaries, which then also lead to pain experiences due to hypersensitive nerves in the area.
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Also, as women are more likely to suffer with IBS, and that IBS has been reported to be worse during menstruation, there seems to be a link between hormones and IBS. Women generally have more severe symptoms than men, needing more medication or treatment to relieve the symptoms.
There is an estrogen receptor in our small intestines and stomach, and when the levels of hormones change there can be a reaction. Also, during menstruation, in which most women have said that their IBS symptoms worsen dramatically, there is a high production of progesterone, which trigger uterine cramping, which can effect the hypersensitive colon and increase gastrointestinal muscle spasms.
Although it is feasible that there is a functional irritable bowel syndrome ovarian cyst link, with the one physiologically triggering the other there is little evidence to suggest this is the case.