01 Oct 2022

‘The Embarrassment of IBS’ with Dr Deirdre O’Donovan

48% of IBS sufferers are too embarrassed to ask for help

‘The Embarrassment of IBS’ with Dr Deirdre O’Donovan

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Ahead of World Digestive Health Day , tomorrow Monday May 29, an Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) study commissioned by Alflorex and performed by Censuswide on more than 1,250 IBS sufferers in Ireland and the UK indicates that many Irish people are suffering alone because they are too embarrassed and ashamed to talk about their IBS.

IBS is a huge source of embarrassment for the approx. 700,000 Irish sufferers:

·        60% say they are too embarrassed to tell anyone about their IBS. 

·        Over 20% say they are too embarrassed to tell their own partner about their IBS.

 As a nation we put up and shut up but we shouldn’t according to Consultant Gastroenterologist Deirdre O’Donovan of Blackrock Clinic, “The research shows that many people are anxious when it comes to discussing embarrassing health issues with their doctors and even their partners. These digestive health issues can be easily treated with a visit to their Pharmacist or GP. Hopefully this survey will help to encourage people to seek expert help so that they don’t have to suffer in silence and can get back to enjoying life to the fullest.’’ 

·        1 in 2 16–24 year olds suffer alone because they are too embarrassed to talk about their IBS

·        41% of 16-24 year olds are too embarrassed to tell their boss about their IBS.

·        48% of 16-24 year olds are too embarrassed to tell their friends about their IBS.

·        38% of 16-24 years old are too embarrassed to tell their parents about their IBS.

Living with IBS can lead to a continuous struggle to avoid embarrassing situations and the feedback from Irish IBS sufferers highlights what its really like:


·        Almost 1 in 5 have had an IBS incident while they were out socializing

·        Approx. 1 in 2 have to know where the toilets are at all times

·        Despite this 1 in 2 fear not being able to get to the bathroom on time

·        1 in 5 are embarrassed to tell even their close friends


Speaking about IBS and embarrassment Dr. Deirdre O’Donovan says, “This survey shows the stress and embarrassment of living with IBS every day and I see the pressure that puts on people. It’s important that people know there are new ways of managing IBS symptoms and that it’s always worth talking to their pharmacist or another healthcare professional.’

 What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

IBS is a chronic condition affecting almost 15% of the Irish population today. Symptoms include abdominal cramps, bloating and unpredictable bowel movements. Many first get symptoms in their late teens and continue to suffer for years, sometimes decades, before being diagnosed or getting an effective treatment.

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