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J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006 Feb;21(2):468-73.

Gender-related differences in visceral perception in health and irritable bowel syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is more common in female subjects, and IBS patients generally exhibit reduced pain thresholds to rectal distension. The aim of the present paper was to determine gender-related differences in rectal perception in both healthy controls and IBS patients.


Fifty-nine IBS patients (age 20-65 years; mean, 39.2 years; 31 women, 28 men) with symptoms that fulfilled Rome-II criteria and 21 healthy controls (age 25-58 years; mean, 37.8 years; 11 women, 10 men) were recruited. Participants completed a questionnaire regarding bowel symptoms and psychological distress, and maximal tolerable pressures were evaluated via barostat tests.


Although healthy women appear to have lower perception thresholds than men, significant gender differences in pain sensitivity were not detected (P > 0.05). In addition, female patients with IBS also exhibited no enhanced colorectal perception, as compared with male IBS patients (P > 0.05).


No gender differences in visceral perception were determined to exist between the healthy controls and the IBS patients. Therefore, the increased prevalence of IBS in women may be related to another set of pathophysiological factors, and not to gender-related differences in visceroperception.

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