Background: Celiac disease may present in various forms. This study aimed to investigate whether gender affects the clinical presentation of the disease in adult celiac patients from the Mediterranean area.
Methods: This study retrospectively analyzes data collected in all adult patients with celiac disease (n = 195) seen during the past 13 years at the Gastrointestinal Unit of the Federico II University of Naples, Italy.
Results: In these series of patients the ratio of women to men was 3.33. Age at diagnosis was lower in women that in men (p < 0.05). Except for asthenia, all signs and symptoms were more frequent in women than in men. Hypochromic anemia was the most commonest finding in women and was 40% more frequent in women than in men (p < 0.001). Dyspepsia was twice as frequent in women as in men (p < 0.05); genital disorders were reported by 44% of women and by no men. Recent weight loss or low body mass index was the commonest finding in men. About 60% of men and women reported diarrhea; among patients without diarrhea, the prevalence of hypochromic anemia differed between sexes (p < 0.05), occurring in about 80% of women.
Conclusion: This study shows that the clinical presentation of celiac disease is not the same in men and women. The disease is not only more frequent in women than in men but is also more severe and more rapid. The data also suggest the need to look for celiac disease in patients with unexplained hypochromic anemia.