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Women's Issues In Gastroenterology

Women's Gastroenterology, Symptoms and Causes

The GI Health Center for Women at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System focuses on Women's Gastroenterology Issues in Liver Disease and Nutrition. The Center is directed by female gastroenterologists with special interests in women’s health issues including the following conditions:

Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD) is a women's gastroenterology problem that many women first experience as heartburn during pregnancy. This is due to pregnancy hormones and the pressure from the growing fetus. Heartburn symptoms resolve in most of these women after delivery of the baby. If heartburn is infrequent, women can easily control symptoms with diet and lifestyle changes. However, long standing, persistent GERD can cause serious problems.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a women's gastroenterology condition that is three times more common in women than men. Symptoms often include chronic abdominal pain and/or discomfort and altered bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation). In spite of IBS's great deal of discomfort and distress, it is not life threatening.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory disorder and a women's gastroenterology condition that happens during childbearing years. IBD encompasses two disorders, Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. Women with active Crohn’s disease can have difficulty with conception, and has been shown to have poorer pregnancy outcomes than healthy women.

Gallstones are a women's gastroenterology condition that occurs in up to 20% of American women. Women 20 to 60 years old are three times more likely to develop gallstones than men. Although most women with gallstones have no symptoms of pain, women with symptomatic gallstones experience pain the right upper region of the abdomen and back, along with nausea and vomiting. The treatment for symptomatic gallstones is usually surgery to remove the gallbladder.

Colon Cancer Screening and Prevention should be an important focus for potential women's gastroenterology issues, colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States. Colon cancer strikes equally among women and men. Colon cancer occurs after the age of 50, often without any warning signs or symptoms; therefore, everyone should be screened to prevent colon cancer. Women at higher risk for colon cancer include those with family history of colon cancer, colon polyps, personal history of colon polyps, personal history of inflammatory bowel disease.

Fecal Incontinence is a women's gastroenterology condition that is defined as either the involuntary passage or the inability to control the discharge of fecal matter through the anus. Although fecal incontinence affects people of all ages, its prevalence is disproportionally higher in women and in the elderly.

Hemorrhoids are present in everyone. It is only when the hemorrhoidal cushions are enlarged that hemorrhoids can cause problems and be considered abnormal or a disease. Hemorrhoids that cause problems are found equally in men and women and peaks between 45 and 65 years of age. Common causes of hemorrhoids are constipation and straining to have bowel movements; both situations can be alleviated by adding fiber to the diet. Pregnancy is a clear cause of hemorrhoids as a women's gastronenterology issue, as are pelvic tumors.

Urinary incontinence (UI) is a women's gastroenterology condition that occurs twice as often in women as in men. UI is the unintentional loss of urine and results from problems with muscles and nerves that help to hold or release urine. Pregnancy and childbirth, menopause, and the structure of the female urinary tract account for this difference. Incontinence is not inevitable with age. No single treatment works for everyone, but many women can find improvement without surgery.