PCOS-related digestive issues

“I'M not sure if this is related to PCOS, but I have terrible stomach cramps. I go days without using the bathroom, and then when I eat certain foods, my stomach puffs up and tightens.”

This was a discussion I had only a few weeks ago.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can cause digestive problems. According to one study, 20 per cent of women with PCOS will develop irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) later in life. IBS is a chronic condition that affects the large intestine. Cramping, stomach pain, bloating, gas, and constipation or diarrhoea, or both, are all symptoms of IBS.

The cause of the relationship between PCOS and IBS is unknown.

Although the actual etiology of IBS is unknown, there are a number of potential causes for the link between IBS and PCOS, including food, gut health, stress, and sleep patterns.

Gut microbiome

It should come as no surprise that IBS causes a flora imbalance in the gut. It's a lot like PCOS. However, a diagnosis of PCOS or IBS affects not only the amount of bacteria present, but also their distribution, with a higher number of bacteria identified in the small intestine than is typical.

Hormone Imbalance

Your hormones have an impact on how your stomach functions.

PCOS causes an increase in the ovulatory chemicals luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). High levels of LH can interrupt ovulation, resulting in missed periods, as well as impede food transit through the digestive tract, resulting in constipation.


Medication has its advantages, but it also has its drawbacks. Medications used to treat PCOS, such as Metformin, have been shown to disrupt the balance of healthy bacteria in the stomach, as well as cause unpleasant side effects such bloating, diarrhoea, and constipation.

Stress and IBS

Increased stress has been linked to the aggravation of IBS symptoms.

As I've previously stated, a woman with PCOS is more sensitive to stress, whether it's from a lack of sleep, work stress, or processed meals. IBS symptoms are triggered by stress, which causes inflammation of the intestinal lining.

Living with IBS and PCOS can be difficult. Diet, lifestyle modifications and stress reduction can all help to control symptoms. Most essential, remember that your PCOS diagnosis is not your fault and it does not mean that your body is defective; it simply requires extra attention. In my practice, I assist women with PCOS overcoming and managing the condition naturally by identifying and treating the underlying reasons of their problems.

Monique Allen, BSC, is a certified holistic nutritionist and PCOS educator. She runs a web-based practice through which she helps women with PCOS lose weight without dieting, attending the gym or taking pills. If you need additional resources or personal support, follow her on social media @themoniqueallen or e-mail hello@themoniqueallen.com.


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