Do you have questions about IBS and using hypnotherapy to help reduce the symptoms? This is what I am most often asked. If your question isn’t here, feel free to contact me to ask.

According to NICE, most people affected by IBS are between 20 and 30 years of age. Despite this, it can be diagnosed in people who are much older, and much younger. Many younger people find that a stressful period such as taking exams can bring on the first attack.

It is thought up to 20 per cent of the adult population of the UK will have IBS symptoms at some point in their lives.

In the UK, four times as many women as men seek help for Irritable Bowel Syndrome from their GPs. However, it's thought there are only around twice women as men who suffer from it. This is probably because, in Western Europe, women seem to be more inclined to seek medical help than men. In the East, four times as many men as women approach their GPs for help with IBS.

IBS symptoms in women

  • Many women find their IBS symptoms get worse when they are menstruating (having a period), possibly because of hormone changes, or because women may be simply more aware of changes in their abdominal region.
  • Pregnancy often causes a reduction in IBS symptoms, as does menopause. Despite this, neither birth control pills nor HRT appears to have any effect on IBS symptoms.
  • Women with IBS may be more at risk of developing endometriosis or having a hysterectomy.


IBS symptoms in men

  • There seems to be less research on Irritable Bowel Syndrome in men, though there is some.
  • Symptoms in men and women are similar though men tend to be less likely to report bloating, distension and feelings of incomplete evacuation (that they have not 'finished' when they go to the toilet).
  • One study showed that, in younger men, IBS seemed to be connected with higher levels of testosterone than average.
  • Men are statistically less likely to suffer anxiety or depression than women which may also have an impact.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome in children is not well researched, and most studies do not distinguish between abdominal pain in general and IBS specifically. However, one American study showed up to 14% of High School children and 6% of Middle School children may be affected.

As with adults, the causes are not really known; stress, anxiety, depression, abdominal enteritis, gut sensitivity etc all seem to be factors. Boys and girls seem to be about equally affected.

As with adults symptoms include bloating, burping, passing wind, tummy pain, diarrhoea, constipation, headaches, or nausea. This can be a big problem if your child is off school a lot, or if it's worse at times when they're worried, like when they have exams.

If you think your child may have IBS have a look at THIS PAGE which is aimed at younger people and explains things in an easy-to-understand way. It's also important to get it checked out by a doctor.


Treating IBS in children

Many doctors try to reduce the symptoms with dietary and lifestyle changes first, but medication may also be used. Stress management or other talking therapies may also be offered.


Hypnotherapy and IBS in children

Dr Whorwell's original Manchester study only looked at using hypnotherapy with adults with IBS. However, children are generally excellent hypnotic subjects and respond very well to it.

I am very happy to offer gut-directed hypnotherapy to children over ten who have been formally diagnosed with IBS, please contact me if you want to know more.

A diagnosis of IBS used to require a colonoscopy, which many people found to be a scary thought. Some avoided going for a proper diagnosis because of this.

IBS is now most often diagnosed through the 'Rome lll' criteria, as recommended by NICE, which requires only symptom testing and blood tests. See more information about diagnostic guidelines HERE.

Remember that only a medical professional can diagnose IBS, and if you think you may have it I strongly suggest you make an appointment with your GP. This will help you rule out other causes of your symptoms that might require different treatment.

You will need a formal diagnosis from a medical professional before I can work with you on your IBS. Although the Manchester study used volunteers who had been diagnosed over a year, there is no need to wait this long before contacting me.

The causes of IBS are not fully understood, but it's thought that gut hypersensitivity, disturbed colonic motility, post-infective bowel dysfunction or problems with the 'antinociceptive' (pain control) system may be involved.

People with IBS are thought to be more sensitive to pain in the gut area than those without. (They are also more likely to be allergic to cats and feathers!)

Stressful events, abnormal colonic flora (the bacteria in the gut), anxiety, depression and food intolerances are also sometimes implicated.

As IBS is thought to be to do with the way your gut works, there is;t  a "cure" but symptoms can often be managed. A number of over-the-counter remedies are available from pharmacies and health food shops. Your GP can advise which is the most suitable for you and can also offer prescription medication if needed.

Lifestyle changes can help. See my blog articles for more on this, and hypnotherapy can aid in making the changes to get your symptoms under control.