Acid Reflux Differs Between Genders

Women have less success with anti reflux surgery

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Do men have heartburn more often than women? Do women have worse symptoms than men?

Researchers in Australia found that men and women describe different levels of acid reflux symptoms. They found that after undergoing surgery, men have better outcomes – meaning, their condition is more improved – than their female counterparts.

Women are twice as likely to go in for another surgery to treat the condition.

Women are more likely to report heartburn and have more severe symptoms than men, but they also have poorer outcomes with laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery.

"Ask your doctor about which GERD treatment is right for you."

Men and women are equally likely to suffer from acid reflux. Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), also called heartburn or acid reflux, is very common. Up to 40 percent of adults in the Western world have monthly symptoms, and 4 to 7 percent experience symptoms every day.

That means that many people are on medication for acid reflux or heartburn. Larascopic anti-reflux surgery is considered a good option for people with more severe symptoms.

Because acid reflux does not seem to discriminate between affecting either sex, scientists were curious to know why men and women reacted so differently to surgery. They found that there are differences between the men and women when they actually do go into surgery.

Women who have the surgery done have a higher body mass index (BMI), they tend to be older, have a condition called hiatal hernia, and report more symptoms of heartburn and dyshagia or trouble swallowing than males. However, males who show up for surgery usually have a more advanced version of the disease.

The study authors believe that's because males tend to pay less attention to their health and don't seek medical attention until it's absolutely necessary.

The study also points to a fundamental difference between men and women: More females reported that they were less “satisfied” with their post-surgery outcomes than males.

The authors speculate that this could be because men are less liable to report symptoms than women might be worried about.

It could be, the researchers conclude, that women simply interpret their symptoms as being more severe than males, even though the men who go in for surgery typically have the more advanced symptoms.

This shouldn't preclude females from being candidates for surgery, they write, but doctors may want to state that women should lower their expectations for surgery to cure them.

The study was published in The Archives of Surgery in October 2011.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 26, 2011
Last Updated:
October 29, 2011