Bowel Problems Very Common In Pregnancy

May 6, 2013

New Orleans, LA -- Three-quarters of women in their first trimester of pregnancy report experiencing irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, bloating, or diarrhea, but still say their quality of life is good, according to new research presented today at the Annual Clinical Meeting of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“While functional bowel disorders affect a significant portion of pregnant women, overall their quality of life remains high,” said lead researcher Scott C. Graziano, MD, MS, at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, IL.

The study’s goal was to characterize the range of functional bowel disorders in a population of pregnant women and investigate its impact on quality of life. Pregnant women were enrolled in their first trimester, with measures repeated in the third trimester. Of the 104 patients who completed the first-trimester questionnaire, 75% reported having one or more functional bowel disorders.  

“It appears that pregnant women are tolerant of functional bowel disorders, especially when viewed as a self-limited condition,” said Dr. Graziano. “However, constipation and bloating symptoms more significantly affect quality of life, particularly body image.”

The quality-of-life measure also evaluated specific subset categories, such as perceived body image issues, worry about overall health status, and avoidance of food. Pregnant women with a functional bowel disorder consistently scored lower in these specific categories compared with women without functional bowel disorders.

“Providers may be encouraged to screen for and manage bowel disorders, particularly if patients are describing body image concerns,” said Dr. Graziano.

*Monday Poster #53: Functional Bowel Disorders and Effects on Quality of Life in Pregnancy

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 57,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization.


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