These Latest Gender Pain Gap Figures Are Literally A Kick In Gut

Cramps, bloating and changes in bowel habits, bowel issues like irritable bowel syndrome and colitis can really take over your life. And recent studies show that gastrointestinal disorders disproportionately affect women and contribute to the gender pain gradient.

In 2022, pain reliever company Nurofen conducted its own study looking at the gender pain gap and found that 50% of women said their GP and 27% said their HCP ignored or dismissed their pain with partners /Spouses (26%) and friends (21%) react the same way.

Speaking about the results of the study, Dr. Elinor Cleghorn, author of Unwell Women: A Journey Through Medicine and Myth in a Man-Made World: “The Gender Pain Gap Index Report is the beginning of a crucial shift in the cultural, social, and medical perception of women’s pain.”

The government seemed to take notice and launched its first women’s health strategy in England in July last year to tackle systemic health system issues that result in women not being listened to.

The gender pain gap, as well as social issues such as stigma and gender stereotypes, pose major challenges in diagnosing conditions that can be distressing — most people can wait up to six years for treatment.

With that in mind, we speak to Billy Boyle, CEO of Owlstone Medical, to find out why taking care of our gut health is so important to avoiding potential problems.

What is gut health and why should it be on everyone’s radar?

“Your body is home to an estimated 40 trillion bacterial cells, a large proportion of which live in your digestive system as part of the ‘gut microbiome,'” explains Boyle.

Gut bacteria play a very important role in our body. “From helping food digest, to producing essential vitamins, to protecting your digestive system from pathogenic bacteria, to helping your own immune system function, your gut bacteria are essential to keeping your body healthy,” says Boyle.

“Your gut microbiome can be affected by many factors — diet, sleep, medications, stress, smoking, exercise — and more. It’s important to pay attention to how best to support your microbial residents, as changes in the composition or metabolic activity of the gut microbiome have been linked to several disease states, including cardiovascular disease, liver disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).”

Why do women in particular have to struggle more with intestinal diseases?

Women’s unique biology may be a factor in why gut disease affects women disproportionately, says Boyle. “The female large intestine is about 10 cm longer than the male and shares the space in the abdomen with the female reproductive organs.

How can women catch gut problems early before they develop into bigger problems?

“If you notice changes in your normal bowel habits or develop new gastrointestinal symptoms, you should speak to a doctor who can evaluate you for signs of serious illnesses, such as colon cancer,” Boyle suggests.

“Persistent symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation can be symptoms of digestive disorders such as IBS, SIBO, and carbohydrate malabsorption (CM).”


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