The Silent Struggle: Common Gut Issues Affecting Men

June is Men’s Health Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about all of the health issues men face and encouraging them to take better care of their health. While discussions often center on heart health, prostate cancer, and mental health — all of which are so important — there is one men’s health topic that tends to be overlooked: gut health. 

Here at Terrain Health, Dr. Robin Rose, double board certified in Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine, and Tracey Sheedy, PA-C, believe that all healing starts in your gut. 

In the spirit of Men’s Health Month, the Terrain Health team is here to talk about the common gut issues that affect men and how we can help you support your gut health.

Why Men Are Reluctant to Seek Help for Gut Issues

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, 38% of men go to the doctor only when they have symptoms that don’t go away on their own. Men are also three times more likely to skip their annual exams for five (or more) years in a row. This reluctance to seek medical advice can be particularly problematic when it comes to your gut health. 

There are many reasons why you may feel tempted to brush off your symptoms, and those reasons can vary from man to man. Some men postpone healthcare because they want to “power through” their symptoms. Others are often quick to brush off digestive issues and attribute them to something they ate or stress. However, persistent gut issues can be a sign of underlying health problems that require medical attention.

Common Gut Issues that Affect Men

There are many gut issues that affect men, including:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation. 

IBS may develop as a result of the combination of abnormal gut motility, increased sensitivity to pain, stress (especially stress early in life), and changes in your gut microbiome. 

Men might dismiss these symptoms as minor annoyances, but IBS can significantly impact their quality of life if left untreated.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

IBD, which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, is characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. 

Symptoms can include severe diarrhea, pain, fatigue, and weight loss. The chronic nature of IBD can lead to complications like malnutrition and increased risk of colon cancer.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) 

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid flows back into your esophagus. This can irritate the lining of your esophagus. Common symptoms include heartburn, regurgitation, and difficulty swallowing. Certain foods, including spicy or fatty foods, can trigger acid reflux.

Women are more likely to experience GERD, but men are more likely to experience severe symptoms and complications from GERD, yet they often delay seeking treatment until the condition worsens. Untreated GERD can lead to other complications including Barrett’s esophagus, hoarseness, wearing away of tooth enamel, and even asthma.


Diverticulitis refers to inflammation of the diverticula in your digestive tract. This condition can cause severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and changes in bowel habits. As with acid reflux, certain foods can trigger flare-ups.

Leaky Gut

Leaky gut is a condition where the lining of your small intestine becomes damaged, which then allows undigested food particles, toxins, and bacteria to “leak” through the intestinal wall into your bloodstream.

Current research does not conclusively indicate that more men have leaky gut syndrome compared to women. However, lifestyle factors that are more common in men, such as higher levels of stress, poorer dietary habits, and greater alcohol consumption, can contribute to the development of leaky gut. 

Food Sensitivities 

Chronic gas and bloating are common complaints and can be symptoms of many different conditions. That being said, they’re often connected to food sensitivities. 

As with many of these conditions, more women report food sensitivities and food allergies, but again, this may not indicate the reality of the situation if many men brush off digestive symptoms.

Liver disease

Conditions such as fatty liver disease and cirrhosis are often linked to gut health through the gut-liver axis

Symptoms of liver issues may include jaundice, abdominal pain, and swelling. Men are more likely to engage in behaviors such as heavy alcohol consumption, which can exacerbate liver problems.

The Importance of Taking Care of Your Gut Health

Ignoring gut health issues can lead to serious complications. That’s because your gut health affects the health of your entire mind and body. A poor gut can lead to a weakened immune system, low energy, digestive troubles, and increased risk of conditions, such as diabetes, anxiety, and depression.

On the flip side, by addressing gut-related conditions and focusing on improving your microbiome, you can support your immune health, mental health, and so much more.

Want to learn more? You can learn more about the Gut-Brain Connection in our blog “5 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Gut-Brain Connection.”

Steps to Improve Your Gut Health

Whether you’re currently battling a common gut issue, or you’re simply trying to avoid them, there are many strategies you can implement to take care of your gut health:

  • Focus on a balanced diet rich in fiber, lean proteins, and probiotic-rich foods 
  • Exercise regularly 
  • Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day
  • Avoid excessive alcohol and smoking
  • Manage your stress levels
  • Take probiotics to bolster your microbiome 

Depending on which gut issue you’re facing, you may need to take medication or supplements or undergo procedures to resolve your specific symptoms.

How We Can Help with Gut Issues

Here at Terrain Health, gut health is one of our top passions — after all, healing begins in the gut!  Led by leading Connecticut gut doctor Dr. Robin, we have everything you need to care for your gut health under one roof. 

Depending on your specific goals, our team offers: 

  • Next generation sequencing of the gut microbiome
  • Genomics testing/DNA analysis 
  • Tests that examine the exposome (i.e. mycotoxins)
  • Metabolomic testing of Hormones
  • Other novel biomarkers/blood tests
  • Stool tests 
  • Health coaching, including tips for making your diet more gut-friendly 
  • In-person grocery shopping/guidance

We know that your gut health is just one piece of the puzzle. As a Direct Primary Care provider, our team can also help address any concerns— such as hypertension or weight gain —  that you’re experiencing. 

Prioritize Your Gut Health This Month

You don’t have to suffer alone! In honor of Men’s Health Month, put your gut health first this month and give us a call.

Book your free discovery call today.