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Do women REALLY bloat more than men?

Posted 4 years ago by Jo

Yes, is the answer, according to a recent article in the Daily Mail, following an interview with US Gastorentologist Dr Robynne Chutkan; women do get more bloated than men. She goes on to explain that the reason is apparently due to the fact that women have a longer colon than men, combined with hormonal fluctuations affecting the abdominal walls.  Chutkan states that women have an extra length of colon in order to adapt to the needs of pregnancy, such as increased blood volume, production of amniotic fluid etc. She also believes women bloat more than men due to their different pelvis shape, as women have less room for their colon to sit.

Women's colon

Do women experience bloating more than men due to the length of their colon?

The orchestra of female hormones throughout a woman’s cycle are also to blame. We have heard before that progesterone, the hormone released by the ovaries in women, can contribute to bloating by causing muscles to relax. This muscle relaxation can then lead to constipation.  Bloating is a problem experienced by many, and finding the trigger can be tricky. Dr Chutkan’s explanation may be welcome news to some, but does it go far enough to explore all the possible different causes of bloating?

Can causes of bloating be defined by a difference in the sexes?

Although the structural and hormonal difference between men and women provides a valid explanation for bloating triggers, there are certainly other factors to consider. The Daily Mail article briefly mentions some of these other causes of bloating as “chewing gum, antibiotics and stress”, and as I aim to explore their relevance further. The following factors are not sex-specific and can affect both men and women.

men and women

Do women REALLY bloat more than men? 

Stress

IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) affects a staggering 1 in 7 people in the UK and it is believed that stress is a major trigger for IBS symptoms such as bloating, constipation, cramps and diarrhoea. Our increasingly busy lives with work with growing pressures from work, finances and family life can take their toll on our digestion, leaving many of us struggling with digestive discomfort. When we are under stress, our body switches its focus from our digestion which can result in reduced digestive enzymes and stomach acidity which are necessary to properly digest our food. You can read more about stress and bloating here

Stress

Stress can trigger bloating & IBS symptoms in both men and women 

Food

Can the food we eat lead to bloating? There are the usual suspects of the food world that can contribute to bloating which many of us are familiar with – these are bread, sugar, dairy foods, legumes (beans and pulses) and the more ‘windy’ vegeables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. The reason these foods cause bloating in us can vary, but typical reasons are less than optimal digestion, as mentioned above, as well as exposure to overly processed varieties available.

Medication

Medication, particularly antibiotics, can lead to digestive problems and bloating as a side effect. Antibiotics in particular can cause an imbalance in our gut flora, leading digestive problems and bloating. Antibiotics can be very helpful in treating infection, but act in a non-selective way and can kill the beneficial bacteria in our gut that we need to help digest our food, product digestive enzymes and for vitamin production. Click here for more information about medicine and bloating.

Medicine

Bloating can be a side effect of taking some medications 

You can read more about causes of bloating here.

So, what can we do to help with bloating?

There are natural remedies for bloating, and as everyone is unique, we can all experience different benefits from different remedies. It may be worth trying a probiotic supplement to help reduce your symptoms - you can read more about probiotics and bloating here. If you feel that stress may be your trigger, it is worth exploring relaxation techniques and including slow paced exercise, such as yoga, into your daily routine. Many of us are time poor, but even simple deep breathing exercises can help calm our minds and help reduce our stress levels.

In conclusion, the Daily Mail article and Dr Chutkan cite some relevant reasons for bloating, and why women often experience more bloating than men, however there are other factors to consider that affect both men and women. The natural remedies for bloating and digestive discomfort are relevant to everyone, and it can be a case of trying a variety of remedies in order to determine what works best for you.

Click here to read more about natural remedies for bloating.

Image source: www.footage.shuttersstock.com

www.trytherapy.co.uk 

About Jo Saunders

Jo is a qualified Nutritional Therapist with a Diploma in Naturopathic Nutrition. She enjoys writing informative articles that take a holistic (whole) approach towards using food to help heal the body.

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