Digestive Health

Part of: Women's Health

Get to know your gut

A healthy gut is an important part of a woman's overall health. But do you know that women's stomachs tend to process food more slowly than men's? Or that irritable bowel syndrome affects more women than men? Women also experience bloating, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and other digestive issues at various stages of their menstrual cycle due to hormonal changes.

Understanding the causes of common gut issues and their symptoms that affect women gives you the power to take the necessary actions to prevent future health complications.

Collapse All
Expand All

What common digestive health conditions do women suffer from?

Many women experience digestive issues such as bloating, constipation and diarrhoea. Our gut has a huge influence on our overall health and wellness.

You can support healthy digestion through simple, everyday activities such as eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, staying physically active and managing stress. Sometimes, however, digestive problems may point to an underlying condition.

Bloating in the stomach is a common condition experienced by women. However, bloating can have many causes. Some are benign and easily treatable, while in other cases, bloating may be caused by serious underlying disorders.

Consult your gastroenterologist immediately if you experience bloating together with any one of these symptoms:

  • Weight loss without any change in diet or exercise regimen
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weight gain or a rapidly expanding waistline
  • Jaundice
  • Blood in stool
  • Vaginal bleeding in between periods
  • Fever

Learn more: Why do women suffer from bloating and constipation?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gut disorder that affects twice as many women as men, and it is especially prevalent in younger adults. The condition disrupts bowel movement, causing a great deal of abdominal discomfort. As there is no one single cause for IBS, your doctor will diagnose it based on your symptoms.

Learn more: Managing irritable bowel syndrome

Gastritis is the inflammation of the lining of the stomach. It has many causes, but the most common are bacterial infections, especially Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), excessive alcohol use, taking certain medications, chronic vomiting or stress.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as an acid reflux or heartburn, is a chronic digestive disease. It occurs when the acid from the stomach flows back (reflux) into the oesophagus (food pipe). The acid reflux irritates the lining of the oesophagus.

There are various risk factors for GERD, such as being overweight, obese or pregnant, eating certain foods or taking certain meditations.

This page has been reviewed by our medical content reviewers.