Does GERD Affect Men and Women Differently?

07. 09. 2018

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects both genders, but 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.

Barrett’s esophagus

Chronic GERD increases the risk of Barrett’s esophagus, a condition in which tissue in the esophagus resembles tissue in the lining of the small intestine. Although the cause of Barrett’s esophagus is unknown, older men are much more likely to develop the condition. Some experts think men are at increased risk to develop Barrett’s esophagus because males are more likely to use tobacco and drink alcohol, which increases the risk of inflammation and tissue damage in the esophagus.

Esophageal cancer

Although esophageal cancer is rare, it 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.

Schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist

GERD can manifest differently in men and women, but treatment and therapies for GERD are similar in both genders.  If you experience acid reflux more than once per week, make an appointment to see a gastroenterologist. Ignoring your symptoms or treating them with over-the-counter medication won’t bring you relief. You may need an upper endoscopy to determine the cause of your reflux.

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