THE GI GENDER DIVIDE: PART I
Men and women are different in a lot of aspects, especially when it comes to the basics of physiology. In the case of GI health, there are several differences—differences that may require tailored testing, diagnosis, and treatment of certain conditions and diseases, as well as pose greater health risk for one gender or the other. Understanding these differences can also help men and women better manage their own digestive health.
The Female Digestive System and Diet
The female digestive system is unique. Here’s what you need to know about the female digestive system:
- A woman’s colon is 10 centimeters longer than the colon of a man, forcing the colon to partially reside in the pelvis.
- The female colon must share space with the bladder and multiple reproductive organs.
- Hormonal fluctuations impact GI system function and can cause fluid retention, bloating, constipation, and slowed digestion.
- The added length and general complexity of the female GI system causes food to move more slowly through the digestive tract. It can take women 14 hours longer to move food through the large intestine than men.
All of these unique features result in different assessment, diagnosis, and treatment options for women. For example, chronic constipation in women may be caused by a weak pelvic floor rather than diet, and fiber supplements might only make the issue worse.
Women are also twice as likely as men to suffer irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), while a longer colon and relaxed abdominal wall makes women more prone to bloating and GI discomfort.
Lifestyle Changes for Women to Improve GI Health
- Practice stress-reduction techniques regularly, such as meditation or massage.
- Avoid sugar and artificial ingredients.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
- Avoid chewing gum to reduce bloating.
Nutrition Tips for Better GI Health
- fruits and vegetables (raw and cooked), ensuring variety
- fiber-rich whole grains
- lean animal proteins and/or plant-based proteins
- Excess saturated fats
- Low-nutrient starchy foods
- Artificial ingredients
Getting Great GI Healthcare
Whatever your gender, you want the best GI care. San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates & Endoscopy Centers are safety-certified facilities, staffed by some of San Antonio’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 comfort and convenience of accessible parking and convenient curbside patient drop-off and pick-up.