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The Gender Lines of Digestive Health

Men and women have biological differences, so they have separate healthcare needs. Most people don’t know that the digestive systems of men and women are quite dissimilar, and they require tailored care and distinct lifestyles to improve their GI health.

The Simple GI System of Men

Men have it a bit easier when it comes to digestive health anatomy—their GI systems are much simpler than women. With a shorter colons and fewer organs with which to share space, there is far less risk of certain conditions or digestive discomforts.

Men’s GI Health

Men have a lower incidence of IBS than women, but they tend to have a higher incidence of polyps at a younger age. Their incidence of colon cancer is also slightly higher (4.7% vs. 4.4% for women), so ensure you don’t delay your screening colonoscopy beyond 50.

Although men are less likely to seek help for heartburn, acid reflux, and other GERD symptoms, men are more frequently diagnosed with serious GERD-related conditions. Seek help for GERD symptoms before your condition deteriorates.

Men are also more prone to gain abdominal weight due to higher testosterone levels, putting men at higher risk of serious diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Men should avoid fatty foods and a diet high in animal proteins to lower this risk.

Women’s Complex GI System

The female digestive system is more complex than that of a male. A woman’s colon is 10 centimeters longer and drops down into her pelvis, where it vies for space with the bladder and reproductive organs.

The female digestive system is also affected by hormonal fluctuations, which can cause fluid retention, bloating, constipation, and slowed digestion. Food can take up to 47 hours to pass through a woman’s large intestine—14 hours longer than it does in a man. Pregnancy and childbirth can also have a profound effect on digestion and digestive function—both during and after pregnancy.

Women’s GI Health

That complex digestive system means a woman’s GI symptoms deserve tailored assessment and treatment. For example, chronic constipation in women may be caused by a weak pelvic floor rather than a lack of dietary fiber.

Women are more prone to IBS. They're also more likely to experience GERD symptoms, such as heartburn and acid reflux, yet they are less likely to be diagnosed with serious GERD-related diseases than men. Experts suggest this may be because:

  • Women are more likely to seek help for GERD symptoms, meaning GERD is treated and advanced stages or progression to more serious disease is prevented.
  • Higher levels of estrogen in women may provide protection against certain cancers.
  • Women’s bodies have been shown in some research studies to be more responsive to protective proteins that can reduce disease risk.

A longer colon and more relaxed abdominal wall in women makes females prone to bloating and GI discomfort, but symptoms can be improved by:

  • Reducing stress
  • Avoiding sugar and artificial ingredients
  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals
  • Avoiding chewing gum, which can increase bloating

Nutrition Tips for Everyone’s GI Health:

Eat more:

  • fruits and vegetables (raw and cooked), ensuring variety
  • fiber-rich whole grains
  • lean animal proteins and/or plant-based proteins

Avoid:

  • Sugars
  • Excess saturated fats
  • Low-nutrient starchy foods
  • Artificial ingredients

Getting Great GI Healthcare

Whatever your gender, you want the best GI care. Central Texas Endoscopy Center is a safety-certified facility, staffed by some of Bryan’s leading board certified gastroenterologists and a medical team that specializes in gastrointestinal health. Get top-level care from expert physicians that will fit your budget, plus the convenience of accessible parking and curbside drop-off and pick-up.

Visit our website to learn more or request an appointment. Alternatively, call (877) 758-3476 to talk to our helpful team.

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