Research indicates that women may experience more acid reflux symptoms than men. According to an April 2016 study, published in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, upper gastrointestinal symptoms were more frequent in female participants compared to males. The women also scored high for bloated stomach, heavy feeling in the stomach, and rubbing of the chest.
The causes of a gender difference in reflux symptoms are not completely clear. However, there are several factors that may contribute to women having more acid reflux symptoms. For example, there appears to be a hormonal link to acid reflux. It has been estimated that gastroesophageal reflux disorders in pregnancy ranges from 40 percent to 85 percent of women. Women going through menopause also seem to have significantly more upper GI discomfort.
A 2008study found that menopausal women were almost three times more likely to have GERD symptoms than the other study participants. Anxiety and depression, experienced more often by women, may also be a contributing factor. (Anxiety and depression are strongly associated with reflux symptoms.)
Understanding the gender differences in acid reflux could be important in treatment. For example, if hormonal changes are responsible for an increased risk of reflux, hormone replacement therapy may be considered in the future for acid reflux treatment.
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Dr. Tracy Davenport is a health writer, advocate and entrepreneur who has been helping individuals live their best life. She is co-author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux. Follow Tracy’s love of smoothies on Twitter.