Gender Differences in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Greuter T1, Manser C2, Pittet V3, Vavricka SR1,4, Biedermann L5; on behalf of Swiss IBDnet. Digestion. 2020 Jan 29:1-7. doi: 10.1159/000504701. [Epub ahead of print]


Author information

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Department of Medicine, Kantonsspital Frauenfeld, Frauenfeld, Switzerland.

Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University Hospital Lausanne, CHUV, Lausanne, Switzerland.

Center for Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Zurich, Switzerland.

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, luc.biedermann@usz.ch.


Immune-mediated diseases typically show a female preponderance. Looking at all autoimmune diseases combined, 8 of 10 patients are females. Although not as prominent, gender differences in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have been reported for epidemiology, disease presentation, disease course and complications, medical and surgical therapies, adherence, psychosocial functioning, and psychiatric co-disorders. While for some factors evidence is rather good, for others data are conflicting. Gastroenterologists dealing with IBD patients in daily clinical practice should be aware of gender-specific issues for the following reasons: (1) misperception of disease presentation potentially delays IBD diagnosis, which has been shown to have deleterious effects, and (2) awareness of gender-specific symptoms and disease severity allows initiation of early and adequately tailored treatment. This might prevent development of complications. And (3) insights into gender-specific differences in terms of treatment and adherence to treatment can improve disease management and foster a more individualized treatment approach. In this review, we summarize current knowledge about gender-specific differences in IBD and highlight the most clinically relevant aspects.

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