Common GI Issues in Women


Despite the fact that digestive health diseases are experienced by both women and men, some gastrointestinal diseases occur more often in women. This may be a result of the variation in the structures of the gastrointestinal system between men and women. Hormonal shifts that occur in women’s bodies as a result of menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can also render gastrointestinal concerns, such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), more severe in patients who are women.

If you or a member of your family have been affected by worrisome GI problems, we urge you to seek gastrointestinal disease care in Little Rock, AR. Our extensive group of gastroenterology providers at GastroArkansas treats common gastrointestinal concerns in women, helping patients minimize symptoms and improve their quality of life.

What are the differences between women's and men's GI systems?

While the function of the GI tract in women and men is generally the same, they have a few significant variations that require a minor modification in the method digestive problems are addressed. Beginning at the top section of the digestive tract, a woman’s lower esophageal sphincter (or the grouping of muscles that block food from flowing upward into the esophagus) closes tighter than her male counterpart's. Women produce less stomach acid than men. Their stomach also empties at a much slower rate. The large intestine in a woman is approximately ten centimeters longer than in men's bodies and the gastrointestinal organs share space with the reproductive organs. As a whole, a woman’s GI processes take more time than a man's.

Which gastrointestinal problems are more common in women?

There are certain GI issues that impact women more often than men. Several of the most common digestive problems in women include:

  • Celiac disease: Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where ingesting gluten results in damage to the small bowel. It is more commonly found in women than in men.

  • Constipation: A common gastrointestinal complaint, constipation occurs when stool hardens and becomes difficult to pass. Women are three times more likely to experience constipation than a man.

  • Gastroparesis: Gastroparesis is a condition that develops when the stomach does not empty fast enough, which might result in GI concerns, like nausea, vomiting, heartburn, and bloating. Gastroparesis is more common in women.

  • IBS: Women are two times as likely to suffer from this disease, which impacts the small bowel and colon, compared to men. Additionally, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can be linked to a woman’s menstrual cycle, elevating in severity near the early part of the period.

  • Gallstones: Gallstones are hardened cholesterol that forms into crystalline material in the gallbladder. Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with this condition than men.

Should you or a family member suffer from any of these conditions, please know that help is available through GastroArkansas. Request an appointment with one of our GI doctors in Little Rock, AR today to get treatment for your digestive concern.

How might women maintain proper digestive health?

Healthy habits will help foster and maintain good digestive health and wellness, no matter if you are a woman or a man. Several habits that can help keep your GI health on track involve:

  • Visiting a GI provider for digestive symptoms
  • Managing a healthy weight
  • Eating lighter meals more frequently
  • Drinking adequate water
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Consuming more high-fiber foods
  • Minimizing stress

Need help with digestive disorders in Little Rock, AR?

In the event you have any troubling symptoms associated with your digestive tract, then request a consultation with the expert GI doctors at GastroArkansas to get the treatment you need. As a physician-led group of GI providers, we treat and manage GI conditions in Little Rock, AR patients. Our GI group is here to help you alleviate your symptoms and live an improved quality of life.