That's according to new research using data from a specialised clinic in Christchurch, New Zealand.
FODMAP is the acronym for fermentable oligosaccharides disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, a group of shortchain carbohydrates found in a variety of fruits, vegetables and grains.
It found that 70% of women with both irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and endometriosis had improved symptoms after a month on the diet, compared to 50% of women with irritable bowel syndrome alone.
This was also the first study to note the common occurrence of endometriosis (36%) in women with IBS.
Writing in the journal of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, researchers from Monash University, said the findings came from a retrospective analysis of data from women attending a specialist IBS service in Christchurch, New Zealand
"Data from those who met Rome III criteria for IBS were sorted into two groups: concurrent endometriosis, and those with IBS alone. Demographics and symptom patterns were identified from a prospective questionnaire. A low FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) diet was taught to all women as the primary therapeutic intervention. Responses to the diet were noted against their ultimate disposition," they noted.
They found that 72% of women with both conditions reported a >50% improvement in bowel symptoms after four weeks of a low FODMAP diet compared with 49% in those with no known endometriosis.
They pointed out the inception of the low FODMAP diet had changed the paradigm of management of people with IBS over the past decade.
"FODMAPs are poorly absorbed, small molecules readily fermentable by bacteria. Their osmotic actions and gas production cause intestinal luminal distension inducing pain and bloating in patients with visceral hypersensitivity with secondary effects on gut motility," the paper stated.
They concluded the low FODMAP diet appears effective in women with gut symptoms and endometriosis.
"The low FODMAP diet is beneficial in reducing bowel symptoms in women with endometriosis. Indeed, the presence of endometriosis may be a clinical predictor of a higher likelihood of response to the low FODMAP diet, presumably because of the causal association with visceral hypersensitivity."
Source: The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
"Endometriosis in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: Specifi c symptomatic and demographic profi le, and response to the low FODMAP diet."
Authors: Judith S. Moore, et al.