Bronze-level articleGay Bowel Syndrome

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Gay Bowel Syndrome is a term coined in the 1970s to describe a heterogeneous group of ano-rectal disorders reported primarily in gay men. The term was first used before the discovery of AIDS. It fell out of use in the late 1980s, around the time the AIDS epidemic (and its associated colorectal complications) became a primary concern. The term is still occasionally used, mostly by anti-homosexual organizations.[1][2]

This is an anus and rectum...it isn't magic or threatening, merely anatomy.

[edit] Definition

No single definition exists, nor is there a specific diagnostic code for the syndrome. Some definitions are more useful than others, but the term "gay bowel syndrome" was originally coined by a large proctology practice in New York City in 1976. Their list of included diseases and conditions grew to unwieldy proportions:

The clinical diagnoses in decreasing order of frequency include condyloma acuminata, hemorrhoids, nonspecific proctitis, anal fistula, perirectal abscess, anal fissure, amebiasis, benign polyps, viral hepatitis, gonorrhea, syphilis, anorectal trauma and foreign bodies, shigellosis, rectal ulcers and lymphogranuloma venereum.[3]

No official definition exists today because the term has fallen out of favor.

[edit] Why the term is worse than useless

The above list exemplifies the problems with the term "GBS" (not to be confused with Group B Streptococcus, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, or George Bernard Shaw, also called GBS). It refers to a protean group of problems, some infectious, some mechanical, some less easy to classify. Aside from the initial epidemiologic considerations (it having been noticed in gay men), there is nothing inherently "gay" about the individual problems that make up GBS. They can occur in anyone engaged in sexual activity involving the anus.

Persistent use of the term GBS may lead to ignoring potential problems in other patients. For instance, if a female patient presents with anorectal complaints, failure to take a proper sexual history can lead to missing a life-threatening cancer. Of note, the Gardasil vaccine can prevent many anal cancers, as can latex condoms.

Even in the mid-1980s, professional groups were distancing themselves from the term. The following is from Gut, a well-respected, peer-reviewed journal of gastroenterology published by the BMJ:[4]

The "gay bowel syndrome" was first used to describe not a syndrome, but a list of conditions. The term hides the problems facing the gastroenterologist. Firstly, the sexual orientation of a patient may not be easily ascertainable in the setting of a general outpatient clinic. Secondly, many infections of the gay bowel are asymptomatic and are missed without full microbiological screening. Thirdly, coinfection is common and the organism isolated may not be causing the symptoms and signs. Finally, the bowel has limited and non-specific clinical and histopathological responses to many infections.

The term Gay Bowel Syndrome is no longer in wide use in the medical community, except as a historical curiosity. The most recent MedLine reference for it is 1997, and that is an article about the history of the term. If you are bat-shit insane, this could be seen as the success of the "homosexual lobby."

One of the single best examples of this is from the so-called conservative wiki Conservapedia where entire pages are devoted to the topic.[5]

Its persistence is more reflective of ignorance and hate than science.

[edit] Footnotes

  1. Ann Emerg Med. 1980 Sep;9(9):487-93.
  2. Postgrad Med. 1984 Aug;76(2):197-8, 201-10.
  3. Kazal HL, Sohn N, Carrasco JI, Robilotti JG, Delaney WE. "The gay bowel syndrome: clinico-pathologic correlation in 260 cases." Annals of Clinical and Laboratory Science, Vol 6, Issue 2, 184-192
  4. Gut, 1985, 26, 869-875
  5. Conservapedia's version
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