Digestion is one of the processes your body does several times every day. However, digestion between men and women differs because of hormones and because the colon goes around the ovaries and uterus, making it more convoluted.
Women are also more sensitive to any irritants in the food pipe, small intestines, large intestines, and rectum, which increases the chances of getting more severe heartburn than men.
Women also experience changes in their digestive system because of hormones, and understanding those changes could help you plan healthy methods to manage that.
Digestive Problems And Hormones
Some women experience lower bowel movement and constipation when they near their period. For such women, their digestive changes remain the same throughout the years, and it is no cause for alarm.
You can also experience digestive problems and bowel movements because of stress, diet, medications, and exercise levels, which might make it hard to determine the cause.
Some other digestive changes you can experience before your period include bloating, gas, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, constipation, and general gastrointestinal discomfort.
Taking hormone-based medications like hormone replacement therapy and birth control pills could make your hormone-related digestive issues worse.
Life Changes That Can Affect Digestive Issues
Pregnancy – As your uterus grows throughout pregnancy, it exerts a lot of pressure on the abdomen. That pushes your stomach contents up, increasing your chances of heartburn. You might also experience painful constipation.
Menopause – Your hormones shift a lot during menopause, which causes issues in your digestive health like shifts in bowel movement, bloating, and gas. Undergoing hormone replacement therapy could complicate that even more.
Post-menopause – Because of changes related to age and some medications, your body will have difficulties absorbing some nutrients. That could throw your digestive tract off, but you can correct it with supplements.
Colon Cancer Concern
Some of the early warning signs of colon cancer include abdominal cramping, constipation, and diarrhea. They are the same issues women experience because of hormonal changes, which makes it hard for them to determine when to start screening for colon cancer.
Many experts recommend that you should start colon cancer screening at the age of 50. However, you should start early if you have previously had any kind of tumors in the reproductive system or if you have had anyone in your family with bladder, breast, or ovarian cancer.
Doctors especially advise that if you have had a gynecologic tumor, you should start screening immediately because they rapidly increase your chances of getting colon cancer.
The best method for colon cancer screening is colonoscopy because that helps look at all sides of the colon. That is unlike a sigmoidoscopy that only focuses on the left side of your colon and might miss a tumor on your right side.
How To Manage Digestive Health
Despite the differences in digestive health, both men and women can maintain their digestive health in the same ways. Some of the best ways to do that include:
- Maintaining healthy weight
- Eat a balanced diet with a lot of fiber (the recommended fiber intake is 25 grams daily)
- Drink a lot of water, around 64 ounces daily
- Stay active through exercises
You can also consider adding probiotics in your gut, which is good bacteria that helps with digestion by eating probiotic rich foods. One of the brands you should try is Probulin, which has the best probiotics for women.
If you practice all these healthy changes and still don’t see an improvement, see your doctor. You might ignore some of those signs, assuming they are part of your hormonal cycle but could be a sign of underlying conditions like inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome.