The impact of IBS on relationships

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a long-term condition that affects your digestive system and affects about 2 in 10 people in the UK. Women are twice as likely to develop IBS as men.

Despite all this information nobody is 100% sure what is the exact cause of the condition.

One sufferer of the condition is Paige, a third year student at Northumbria University. She describes living with IBS as being “a burden,” leaving her struggling to enjoy eating the foods she loves such as carbonara, cake and pasta as she gets a “bloated stomach where I look a stone heavier than I am, stomach cramps so bad I have to use a hot water bottle and take double the dose of painkillers.”

She also says it can affect her relationship with her boyfriend. She says she “struggles to get intimate” with her partner because she feels ashamed of how bloated her stomach is, which is all down to her heightened anxiety levels due to having IBS.

Despite this she says she is able to trust him when they go out together because he understands her anxiety and her condition.

Paige’s boyfriend, who did not wish to be named, said: “It doesn’t stop us from being intimate, she’s very open about her problems and it’s not an injury. I know when there’s something wrong with her so I don’t instigate.”

As for how much he knew about IBS before his relationship with Paige he explained that he “only knew the basics” but that he “wasn’t ignorant”.

Paige’s trust in her boyfriend is down to his love and support when she is having a bad IBS day. “I give her the space she needs and privacy but I also have faith that she will eat correctly, and do what she needs to do to look after herself.”

While it is clear that being in a relationship where one person suffers from IBS can have its challenges, it makes things a lot easier when there is trust and understanding about the condition and how it affects the individual.

For more information about IBS go to https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs/

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