For men, and also some women, this might sound surprising, but females experience more digestive issues than men. This is primarily due to the female anatomy and fluctuating hormones. If you are a woman, here are 5 common issues of the female digestive system that you may encounter occasionally. However, if they occur regularly, you need to consult your doctor.
Women experience constipation more often than men. This is due to the presence of estrogen receptors in the digestive tract. While estrogen in the GI tract is important in protecting women against ulcers, this hormone can slow digestion, which may lead to constipation. Besides, hormone fluctuations can increase absorption of water in the intestines, which makes constipation a common problem during pregnancy.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a chronic disorder that affects the colon but doesn’t damage it. According to various studies, women experience Irritable bowel syndrome twice as much as men. Hormones are tipped as one of the factors, especially during menstrual cycles. Stress and certain foods are also known to bring symptoms associated with this disorder. IBS causes abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, diarrhea, gas, and constipation. These symptoms may be constant or can disappear for a few months before reappearing. You can control the symptoms by making changes in your diet or taking over-the-counter medication.
Gallstones are pieces made of hardened cholesterol in the gallbladder. They are more common in women than in men. These crystal-like pieces occur if the gallbladder doesn’t empty enough. Gallstones are associated with different symptoms, including nausea, right upper abdominal pain after meals, or vomiting. Similar to IBS, there is no known cause of gallstones and is more common in women than men due to a slower rate of emptying the gallbladder. Pregnant women are even at greater risk of developing gallstones because of having higher levels of estrogen. To reduce the risk of developing gallstones, stay hydrated, exercise regularly, avoid skipping meals, and maintain a healthy weight.
This occurs when food moves unusually slowly down the digestive system. Gastroparesis often causes pain, bloating, nausea, reflux, a lack of appetite, or feeling full after eating small portions of food. While both type 1 and 2 diabetes are the major causes of gastroparesis, in other cases, the trigger is hard to identify. Women are more prone to this condition because food takes longer to move from the stomach to the small intestines in women than in men.
The reason most women are opting for gluten-free diets nowadays is because of celiac disease. Celiac disease is an immune system reaction that is easily triggered by gluten. When someone develops this condition, their immune system begins to attack healthy cells in the small intestines, thereby causing diarrhea and preventing optimal absorption of nutrients. Women are diagnosed with this condition three times more often than men.
If you think you might have one of the above female digestive system issues, it is important that you talk to your doctor to so you can formulate a plan to combat your specific problem.