While gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects both genders, women and men may experience reflux differently at various stages of life:
Many females experience heartburn for the first-time during pregnancy. The growing baby can put pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and cause gastric acid to backflow into the esophagus. Heartburn symptoms usually intensify in the later stages of pregnancy, but they often subside or disappear after the baby is born.
Chronic GERD increases the risk of Barrett’s esophagus, a silent condition that increases the risk of esophageal cancer. Although the cause of Barrett’s esophagus is unknown, older men are much more likely to develop the condition. The only way to screen for this condition is with a scope exam.
Esophageal cancer is aggressive and challenging to treat. Men are more likely to develop esophageal cancer than women. One reason men are at risk is that Barrett’s esophagus, which affects more men than women, is often a precursor to esophageal cancer.
Although GERD can manifest differently in men and women, treatment and therapies for GERD are similar in both genders. Ignoring your symptoms or treating them with over-the-counter medication may not be sufficient. You may need an upper endoscopy to determine if your esophagus is inflamed and if you have Barrett’s esophagus.
If you experience acid reflux or heartburn, I invite you to make an appointment at my office. For your convenience, you may request an appointment here.