Dr. Sadiya Cheshty is the Gastroenterology Director at the Women’s Specialty Center. The center focuses on women’s health. The Women’s Specialty Center provides just the right environment for women to discuss their health concerns. It is the only specialty center of its kind in the region, bringing personalized care in one beautiful, spa-like location. The center is exclusively for women, and run by women.
Cheshty uses a holistic approach, incorporating the latest advances in technology, endoscopic procedures and a variety of other therapies including lifestyle modifications to optimize digestive health.
Digestive disorders uniquely affect women. Certain GI disorders like IBS, reflux, and a liver disease called Primary Biliary Cholangitis are more common in women. Although for the most part, anatomically women and men have similar GI tracts, there are some notable differences.
One difference between men and women is the colon. Occasionally colonoscopies are more difficult to perform in women, due to a longer bowel and women tend to have more abdominal surgeries (Caesarean sections and hysterectomies) than men that may cause adhesions or scar tissue. I recommend women begin screening for colon cancer at age 50 and earlier if there is a family history of the disease or they are experiencing warning signs, such as a change in bowel habits, blood in the stool or stomach discomfort.
Gastrointestinal disorders including abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, reflux and irritable bowel syndrome disrupt and interfere with the daily activities and quality of life of many women. Women can suffer from disorders unique to hormonal fluctuations, surgeries, pregnancy and delivery. Each stage of a woman’s life comes with a unique set of experiences and challenges. Women are also more susceptible to pelvic floor disorders, primarily from pregnancy and childbearing. This may lead weakened to pelvic muscles and issues with diarrhea or fecal incontinence.
Hormonal fluctuations may intensify or diminish symptoms of certain GI disorders. Many women suffering from inflammatory bowel disease find relief from their symptoms while they are pregnant, while women who have never suffered from IBD may experience initial symptoms during pregnancy. Some common GI disorders are brought on by hormonally mediated processes. Many women taking birth control pills or during pregnancy can have reflux and nausea. Women being treated for osteoporosis experience intense reflux symptoms.
Fortunately, there are ways to maintain healthy GI function and alleviate digestive health problems. Not smoking, exercising and eating a well balanced diet are all good ways to keep the digestive tract healthy. Avoiding certain foods, including some that are thought of as healthy, can eliminate GI symptoms. In some cases, a minimally invasive office based procedures can provide a diagnosis and treatment.
Most GI disorders are highly treatable and women should be proactive in screening for certain digestive disorders and take control of their digestive health. I encourage women to take a proactive role. I encourage women to seek medical attention and adopt healthy lifestyles promoting wellness and prevention.