Women and GI Health

Every member of the population is susceptible to common gastrointestinal issues, but the relationship between women and GI health is surprising. It has been shown that they are at higher risk of common GI problems. Below are four GI problems in which women face a higher risk than men.

Diarrhea & Constipation

According to Digestive Health Specialists, women face a higher likelihood of experiencing constipation in comparison to men, primarily due to their menstrual cycle. During a menstrual cycle women’s organs tend to become more sensitive. The body also releases a chemical known as prostaglandins, which can cause contractions of the uterus. These contractions can also spread to other organs such as the small intestine and colon. This squeezing sensation can cause increased rates of cramping and diarrhea. Unlike prostaglandins, progesterone can cause the colon and GI system to slow, leading to constipation and bloating.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS)

The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) reports that “IBS occurs in women 2 to 6 times more often than in men.” While there is no single cure for the issue, treatment can consist of simple lifestyle changes such as diet or stress management techniques. IBS causes severe sensitivity to irritants that are unnoticeable most. Common symptoms include bloating, diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain.

If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of IBS consult with your doctor for further evaluation.

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is the third leading cancer killer of women in the United States. Thus women aged 45 and older should consult their physician on routine colorectal cancer (CRC) screenings. Those with a family history with the disease or other enhanced risk factors may need to begin screening at a younger age.

Colorectal cancer begins in the rectum or colon, and can be caused through “obesity, physical inactivity, a diet high in red meats, heavy alcohol use, being older, and family history,” according to the American Cancer Society.

Pelvic Floor Disorders

Pregnancy and childbirth can lead to pelvic floor disorders in women according to Penn Medicine. These issues can lead to the deterioration of pelvic muscles or long-term problems post-pregnancy.

Penn Medicine adds that changes in the levels of hormones may improve or diminish symptoms and feelings relating to GI disorders.

If you believe you may be experiencing a GI disorder consult your doctor for further information and treatment options.


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