Skip to main content

Effect of pregnancy on gastrointestinal transit

Abstract

In order to evaluate the possible effects of pregnancy-associated sex steroids on gastrointestinal function, we determined gastrointestinal transit times and sex steroid levels in 15 women during the third trimester of their pregnancies and again 4–6 weeks following delivery when gastrointestinal function had symptomatically returned to normal. Gastrointestinal transit time from ingestion of a liquid lactulose meal to its delivery to the cecum was determined by monitoring breath hydrogen concentrations at 10-min intervals. Gastrointestinal transit times were significantly prolonged in the third trimester of pregnancy, when progesterone and estradiol levels were increased, compared to the postpartum period. This study supports previous findings which suggest that increasing levels of progesterone and estradiol affect gastrointestinal function and therefore may contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms that often occur in pregnant women.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Hytten FE, Leitch I: Alimentary Function in the Physiology of Human Pregnancy, 2nd ed. Oxford, Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1971, pp 165–178

    Google Scholar 

  2. Winship DH: Gastrointestinal diseases.In Medical Complications during Pregnancy. GN Burrow, TF Ferris (eds). Philadelphia, WB Saunders Company, 1975, pp 275–350

    Google Scholar 

  3. Benson RC: Medical and surgical complications during pregnancy.In Current Obstetrics and Gynecologic Diagnosis. RC Benson (ed) Los Altos. Lange Medical Publications, 1976, pp 722–745

    Google Scholar 

  4. Moir DD: Gastrointestinal function in pregnancy and labor.In Obstetric Anaesthesia and Analgesia. Baltimore. Williams and Wilkins Company, 1976, pp 25–34

    Google Scholar 

  5. Van Thiel DH, Gavaler JS, Joshi SN, Sara RK, Stremple J: Heartburn of pregnancy. Gastroenterology 72:666–668, 1977

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Bruce LA, Behsudi FM: Progesterone effects on three regional gastrointestinal tissues. Life Sci 25:729–734, 1979

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Potter MG: Observations of the gallbladder and bile during pregnancy. J Am Med Assoc 106:1070–1074, 1936

    Google Scholar 

  8. Van Thiel DH, Gavaler JS, Stremple J: Lower esophageal sphincter pressure in women using sequential oral contraceptives. Gastroenterology 71:232–234, 1976

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Fisher RS, Roberts GS, Grabowski CJ, Cohen S: Altered lower esophageal sphincter function during early pregnancy. Gastroenterology 74:1233–1237, 1978

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Schultze K, Christensen J: The lower esophageal sphincter of the opossum esophagus in pseudopregnancy. Gastroenterology 73:1082–1085, 1977

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Braverman DZ, Johnson ML, Kern F: Effects of pregnacy and contraceptive steroids on gallbladder function. N Engl J Med 302:362–364, 1980

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Nilsson S, Stattin S: Gallbladder emptying during the normal menstrual cycle. Acta Chir Scand 133:648–652, 1967

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Wald A, Van Thiel DH, Hoechstetter L, Gavaler JS, Egler KM, Verm R, Scott L, Lester R: Intestinal transit: The effect of the menstrual cycle. Gastroenterology 80:1497–1500, 1981

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Abraham CE, Swerdloff R, Tulchinsky D, Odell WD: Radioimmunoassay of plasma progesterone. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 32:619–624, 1971

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Hotchkiss J, Atkinson LE, Knobil E: Time course of serum estrogen and LH concentrations during the menstrual cycle of the rhesus monkey. Endocrinology 89:177–183, 1971

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Byrne J: Diagnostic evaluation of patients with intestinal problems. Clin Obstet Gynecol 15:473–483, 1965

    Google Scholar 

  17. Evans JR, Bonslog JS: Intractable heartburn of pregnancy. Radiology 34:530–535, 1950

    Google Scholar 

  18. Lind JF, Smith AM, McIver DK, Coopland AT, Crispin JS: Heartburn in pregnancy—a manometric study. Can Med Assoc J 98:571–594, 1968

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Nagler R, Spiro HM: Heartburn in late pregnancy manometric studies of esophageal motor function. J Clin Invest 40:954–960, 1961

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Wald, A., Van Thiel, D.H., Hoechstetter, L. et al. Effect of pregnancy on gastrointestinal transit. Digest Dis Sci 27, 1015–1018 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01391748

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01391748

Keywords

  • Public Health
  • Hydrogen
  • Steroid
  • Pregnant Woman
  • Progesterone