Women’s Health: Common GI Problems
- Women’s digestive tracts are different than men’s. How? Mainly because women’s digestive tracts are more sensitive. Women have a stronger sense of taste – it takes her less food and time to determine if food is bitter or sweet.
- According to the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), “Normal women have been shown to be more sensitive to pressure from an inflated balloon placed in the esophagus, small intestine, colon or large intestine, and rectum than men.”
From Top to Bottom
- A woman’s lower esophageal sphincter is stronger than a man’s. In women, the sphincter muscle between the esophagus and stomach shuts tighter after drinking fluid than it does in men. On the downside, this increases the occurrence of Globus, the sensation of having a “lump in your throat,” in women.
- Heartburn: Women may experience heartburn more than men because a woman’s GI tract is more sensitive than a man’ However, women generally have less damage from acid reflux than men do because the muscles in a woman’s esophagus are stronger, keeping acid and stomach juices out of the esophagus.
- Women experience nausea and bloating more frequently than men because their stomachs empty food slower than men’s stomachs.
- For various reasons, women tend to take NSAIDS (anti-inflammatory and pain relieving medication) more often than men. Frequent NSAID intake can cause Gastritis – inflammation of the stomach.
- Gallstones: Women are twice as likely to develop gallstones as men because, like their stomachs, women’s gallbladders empty slower than men’
- Enzymes: The enzymes found in a woman’s liver and small intestine function slightly different than those found in a man’ This means medications are digested differently and may have different effects on a woman than a man.
- Women have a slower emptying of the large intestine than men.
- Women’s anal canal and anal sphincter are shorter than men’ Those muscles are also weaker in women than men.
- Constipation occurs more often in women than men, and tends to get worse with age.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) occurs 2 to 6 times more often in women than in men.
- Colon cancer is the number 3 cancer for women in the U.S. Women should be advised to follow current guidelines to be screened at age 45-50, and talk to their doctors if they have a family history of the disease, in which case they should be screened at an earlier age and at more frequent intervals.