There are times when it is important to acknowledge the differences between GI health in men and women. The male and female digestive systems are one example, understanding those differences is essential for managing optimal GI health.
The Female Digestive System and Diet
4 Things to Know about the Female Digestive System:
- The female colon is 10 centimeters longer than a man’s, forcing some of her colon to reside in the pelvis.
- A woman’s colon must share space with the bladder and reproductive organs.
- Hormonal fluctuations can cause fluid retention, bloating, constipation, and slowed digestion. It can take women an extra 14 hours to move food through the large intestine.
- Pregnancy can significantly affect colon health and function.
Due to these differences, female GI symptoms must be assessed and treated differently than they would for a male patient. For example, if a woman suffers from chronic constipation, it may be related to a weak pelvic floor rather than her diet, and fiber supplements could make symptoms worse.
Women are also twice as likely as men to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and a longer colon and relaxed abdominal wall makes women prone to bloating and GI discomfort.
Seeking the care of a GI professional is a great first step, especially if symptoms are severe or have been occurring for quite some time. For mild cases, you can try these at-home remedies:
- Engage in routine stress-reduction techniques, like meditation or massage
- Avoid sugar and artificial ingredients
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals
- Avoid chewing gum if you suffer from bloating
- 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