Women’s GI Health

Women’s GI Health

I strongly believe a well functioning GI tract is a vital part in a daily sense of well-being.

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Sheila Reddy, MD

Austin Gastroenterology
512-448-4588 | austingastro.com

Dr. Sheila Reddy is a board-certified gastroenterologist who sees a full spectrum of patients with gastrointestinal diseases while focusing on patients with functional bowel disorders and women’s GI health issues. More women suffer with irritable bowel syndrome compared to men and her goal is individualizing care using an integrative approach of medical therapy, diet and lifestyle. “Women have unique challenges when dealing with their GI health as they are going through a variety of changes throughout their life, including pregnancy and menopause, that can all affect the way their gut functions,” Dr. Reddy says. She sees patients and performs endoscopy at Austin Gastroenterology in South Austin and Lakeway.

ARE THERE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN REGARDING THE GI TRACT?

Women tend to have longer colons and a different pelvic anatomy than men, with more redundant colons lower in the pelvis that may contribute to trapping gas and stool and leading to ailments such as bloating and constipation. In addition, women also have different hormonal variations that can play a role in symptoms.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF CONSTIPATION AND WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS AVAILABLE?

I see many women in my practice with constipation, many of whom have been suffering with lifelong constipation and assumed there was either no treatment or are experiencing daily bloating and abdominal discomfort because of it. There are a variety of causes for constipation, ranging from slow transit in the colon to structural changes in the rectum to pelvic-floor dysfunction. When I see a patient with constipation, we go through each possibility and discuss what intervention or test would best help us find the root cause and treat accordingly. This can range from over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, diet and even physical therapy.

WHAT ABOUT BLOATING? HOW CAN I FIX THIS?

Every day, I see patients who are struggling with bloating and want to know how to fix it. The causes of bloating vary from common to rare illnesses and to some degree, the formation of gas is a natural byproduct of the digestive tract functioning as it should. However, some people are more sensitive to the gas they produce, such as those with irritable bowel syndrome, or are eating certain food groups that lead to more gas formation.

There isn’t always a one-size-fits-all approach to bloating but dietary changes can be a good place to start. I want to provide a reasoned and systematic approach to changing the diet rather than your trying to change it alone and becoming frustrated when your symptoms aren’t improving.

WHEN SHOULD I SEE A GASTROENTEROLOGIST FOR MY SYMPTOMS AND FOR COLORECTAL-CANCER SCREENING?

Colorectal-cancer screening typically starts at the age of 50, unless you have a family history of colon cancer or certain types of polyps or are having “alarm” symptoms that may necessitate starting evaluation earlier, such as unintentional weight loss, blood in the stools, amongst others. However, I would recommend that anyone who is having digestive distress, whether it be bloating, discomfort, constipation, reflux or change in bowel habits consider seeing a gastroenterologist.

With the help of your doctor, we can determine if there is a more serious underlying condition and then work to improve your symptoms. I strongly believe a well-functioning GI tract is a vital part in a daily sense of well-being.

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