(Image source from: Why the GI Problems are more in Women?})
It might be a surprising one to know the gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, which are also subjected to the gender or sex alongside with the common food habits and physical impacts. But, a recent study has mentioned that women are more likely to develop the GI disorders than that of men.
The studies suggested that the GI system behaves differently in women, as the features in the brain vary with the gender. Tanja Babic - Research Associate, Department of Neural and Behavioral Sciences, Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania found that the nerve cells that control the movement of food through the intestines are more sluggish in response to brain inputs in women than in men.
She said that females also show differences in brain structure and function compared to males, including higher levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), an inhibitory neurotransmitter. The GABA can control the activity of neurons that control digestion. She focused whether GABA activity in these neurons is different in males and females.
To identify these differences, Babic measured the type of nerve signal received from the brain and the nerves' responsiveness to the signals in rats. She found that the nerves in female rats received more signals that suppress the intestinal movement of food. The nerves were also less responsive when stimulated.
According to Babic, the data support that the nerves controlling the intestines in females are less excitable and receive more inhibitory signals from the brain, offering one explanation of why digestion problems are more common in women.
The study found the prevalence of functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders on female rats higher than that of male rats. Gastric motility is modulated by neurons of the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMV), and the activity of these neurons is regulated by a tonic GABAergic input.
In general, females have been shown to have a higher expression of GABA throughout the central nervous system.
However, the said study might have concentrated on the influence of brain structures, nerve controlling system, and basic properties of brain in gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. Hence we cannot confirm that the women will have higher chances of GI disorders only because of gender. Other factors may have different impacts on the GI.
Image Credits: Medical Daily