My first public IBS flare-up occurred on a date with a prospective partner. Within 30 minutes of our meeting, I was sequestered in a toilet hoping they wouldn't question the time I was taking or the accompanying groans my stomach was emitting.

The opening scenes of dating are meant to be filled with awkward silences, uncomfortable moments and tentative explorations. My bowel explosion, for lack of a better term, turned this casual date into a cringe-worthy anecdote.

I live with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). These conditions nearly convinced me that romance was off-limits. But even when they get a little messy, they are not capable of ousting anyone from the dating world.

What are IBS and IBD?

"Irritable bowel is a functional disorder of the gastrointestinal tract characterized by flare-ups of chronic abdominal pain and altered bowel habits of diarrhea and constipation," said Harvey Allen Jr., M.D., a gastroenterologist at Digestive Disease Medicine of Central New York and director of GI at St. Luke