For too long, women have been silent about their digestive issues.
We get it—nobody wants to talk about things like occasional constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, stomach pain, gas and bloating. But guess what? You’re not alone.
Millions of women across the United States experience digestive issues at some point in their lives, so there’s a good chance the girlfriend, sister or mom you’d rather not talk to about your tummy troubles is experiencing some of the same problems.
Still not convinced? We’ve put together a few eye-opening statistics that may change your mind.
FIRST, MORE WOMEN ARE DIAGNOSED WITH GUT CONDITIONS THAN MEN
For every one man:
- 2.9 women are diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- 2.3 women are diagnosed with celiac disease
- 2.1 women are diagnosed with gallstones
- 1.5 women are diagnosed with acid reflux
- 1.2 women are diagnosed with Crohn’s disease
Source: America’s Gut Check – An analysis of chronic gastrointestinal conditions. Amino, Inc. 2016.
SECOND, THEY EITHER IGNORE THEIR DISCOMFORT OR THEY’RE DISMISSED BY DOCTORS
When digestive issues strike, many women do nothing but wait for the pain to pass, believing it’s just a normal part of life or that it comes with being a woman.
And if women do go to the doctor for digestive discomfort, the outcome is less than encouraging: Many are either given an incorrect diagnosis or told they are overreacting. Even worse, sometimes they’re told the symptoms are all in their head.
Is this because women are reluctant to provide the whole story about their digestive issues? Or is it because the medical community is not taking them seriously?
When you consider that the Office on Women’s Health wasn’t established until 1991 and that women were not even allowed to legally participate in early-stage drug trials until 1993, it certainly feels like the latter.
Just as an example, despite the fact that 75% of people with autoimmune diseases (including Crohn’s disease and celiac disease) are female, it takes an average of five years for a woman to get a correct diagnosis. And that’s not the only case in which women are misdiagnosed.
Women are seven times more likely than men to be sent home mid-heart attack, and it can take up to 10 years for doctors to correctly identify and diagnose female-specific conditions including endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome.
WHICH EXPLAINS WHY WOMEN DON’T WANT TO TALK TO THEIR FRIENDS
In a recent Renew Life survey, we discovered that even though 72% of women have experienced an occasional digestive issue in the past 12 months, nearly two in three women (64%) aren’t willing to talk about the problem with their girlfriends.
Even more surprising, almost half of the women we surveyed (49%) felt more comfortable talking about political issues than they did talking about gut issues with their friends. Yikes.
Of course, this may have to do with the fact that gut issues are traditionally considered an unpleasant topic of conversation, but it could also be because many women don’t even consider the status of their digestive health when thinking about their overall wellness—something else we found from our survey.
What’s more, many women were unaware that stress (21%), diet (16%), aging (43%) and even their living environment (52%) are factors that can upset the balance of bacteria in the gut, which can make it difficult to feel their best.
When you consider what we know about gut health and how it impacts the health of the whole body, it’s clear things need to change—beginning with women being more proactive about their digestive issues and no longer feeling ashamed to talk about them.
“Women are taught to pooh-pooh their own symptoms, but it’s important to bring everything to your doctor’s attention,” said Dr. Barbara Goff in an article published in Prevention magazine in January. “If you have a problem that persists for two to three weeks, I need to know about it. Women often attribute symptoms to getting older or going through menopause, but it’s important to mention anything that deviates from your normal.”
NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS: MORE WOMEN ARE STARTING TO UNDERSTAND THE POWER OF A HEALTHY, BALANCED GUT
We now know that more than 100 trillion live cultures of many diverse strains of bacteria can be found in and around the human body, primarily in the digestive tract—where at least 70% of the immune system can be found.
Your unique bacterial makeup is called your microbiome. It’s where beneficial microbes called probiotics exist alongside both neutral and harmful bacteria to keep things in balance so your body stays healthy.
As new studies continue to uncover the link between microbial balance and health, women are starting to see just how much a balanced gut affects nearly every aspect of our well-being. In a recent review titled, Exploring gut microbes in human health and disease: Pushing the envelope, the authors point out, “There is increasing evidence that the reach of gut microbes extends beyond the intestine, affecting systemic processes, such as metabolism and organ functions of brain, cardiovascular system, liver, and others.”
For women especially, maintaining a balanced gut plays a vital role in supporting optimal digestive function and health.
A WOMAN’S DIGESTIVE SYSTEM IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM A MAN’S
From the mouth all the way down to the colon, a woman’s digestive system is drastically different—and far more sensitive—than her male counterpart’s. For women, understanding that difference is an essential part of maintaining a healthy internal balance and staying on the path to wellness.
For example, experts at the American College of Gastroenterology have discovered that the muscles of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract work differently in women, and a woman’s stomach takes longer to empty food than a man’s, which often results in occasional nausea and bloating.
Women are also more likely to experience inflammation of the stomach, which is often exacerbated by the use of common over-the-counter medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). And in the colon, or large intestine, women typically take longer to empty waste, which may result in occasional constipation.
If you add pregnancy to the mix, women can also look forward to increased nausea, heartburn, constipation and more—but the good news is that a healthy, balanced gut can go a long way toward helping women feel their best at every age and every stage of life.
THE BENEFITS OF PROBIOTICS FOR WOMEN
As a company founded by women, Renew Life has been putting women’s health first since 1997. Among our key goals is helping women understand the importance of digestive health, including the many ways our friendly gut microbes can help us feel better from the inside out. This includes educating women about the benefits of taking a daily probiotic supplement to help maintain internal balance and relieve occasional digestive discomfort.*
Consuming additional good bacteria throughout life plays an important role in supporting ongoing digestive health and immune function, especially because outside factors such as everyday stress, diet, taking some medications, a change in routine and even normal aging can upset a healthy internal balance.
Renew Life probiotics for women are made with billions of live cultures and multiple strains to reflect the natural diversity of a woman’s gut and promote ongoing digestive and immune health.* Our Ultimate Flora™ Women’s Care Probiotic 90 Billion, for example, has 9X more good bacteria†to help active women stay healthy, and our Women’s Care Probiotic 25 Billion is the #1 women’s probiotic††, with 10 specially selected strains to support digestive and immune health.*
And it’s not just about the gut; women also have to think about the vagina and the urinary tract, where a lack of balance can sometimes contribute to yeast overgrowth and UTIs. You can read more about that here, and check out our Ultimate Flora™ Women’s Vaginal Probiotic 50 Billion.
LET’S KEEP THE GUT HEALTH CONVERSATION GOING
Occasional digestive issues happen, but that doesn’t mean women should accept them as “the norm” or stop paying attention to their bodies when tummy troubles strike.
Listen to what your body is telling you, and if something doesn’t feel right or your digestive issues persist, talk to your doctor about what’s going on. And while you’re at it, encourage your girlfriends, moms, and sisters to do the same. Together, we can help end the silence about digestive discomfort.
At Renew Life, we’re passionate about keeping the gut health conversation going and helping women elevate every part of their health through better digestion. Our commitment to delivering uncompromised quality has helped us to become the #1 probiotic brand for women††—and we couldn’t be more proud of that honor.
† vs. a leading brand 10B CFU probiotic
†† based on unit sales