May 21, 2013
More Than 70 Percent Of Pregnant Women Suffer From Bowel Disorders
April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
A Loyola University Medical Center study has found that 72 percent of pregnant women experience constipation, diarrhea or other bowel disorders during their pregnancies. However, the bowel disorders only minimally affect a pregnant woman´s quality of life.
Scott Graziano, MD, associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, and third-year medical student Payton Johnson presented their findings during the 61st Annual Clinical Meeting of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in New Orleans.
The study started with 104 women who filled out the first trimester questionnaire; 66 women also completed a survey in the third trimester. Of the original 104, 72 percent reported one or more bowel disorders, including constipation, diarrhea, bloating and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Sixty-one percent of the third trimester respondents also reported one or more of the disorders.
The women also completed a survey detailing the extent to which bowel problems affect the quality of life. The survey asked such questions as whether bowel problems make life less enjoyable, limit what a person can wear or eat or make a person feel embarrassed, vulnerable, angry, isolated or depressed. The survey was scored on a 1 to 100 scale, with 1 representing the largest possible impact on quality of life.
The women reported an average score of 94.9. The only bowel problems that presented significant impacts on quality of life were constipation, which reduced the score by 4.4 points out of 100, and bloating, which reduced the score by 4.0 points. Graziano suggests that the reason such irritating problems don´t impact quality of life is that pregnant women have learned to expect them during pregnancy and so are better able to tolerate bowel disorders.
Physiological and hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy are the root cause of these bowel disorders. Increased progesterone levels are one such change. The rise affects the smooth muscles in the intestines, taking longer for food to move through the intestine and causing constipation. Women take vitamins, calcium and iron supplements during pregnancy that can cause constipation as well, Graziano said.
Another cause is a lack of dietary fiber, the study found, with pregnant women consuming only 16 to 17 grams of fiber per day. The recommended level is 25 to 30 grams.