Geographic tongue is a condition that is marked by irregular red patches on the surface of the organ and may sometimes vary in shade or appearance. It is a benign disorder that affects people all over the world. However, studies of this oral anomaly have shown that women are impacted by it to a much greater degree than men. In fact, over half the cases that are diagnosed in America each year occur in women. While this might be a clue to discovering the real underlying causes behind it, the question of why women are more prone to it remains. Many physicians believe that a woman’s hormones play a huge part in the development of geographic tongue, and the recurrence of symptoms are in direct relation to hormonal surges that a woman experiences at different times of her life. Women who have already been diagnosed with this complaint are very likely to have a return of symptoms during a pregnancy or during the bodily changes that occur later in life when they are no longer able to have children.
Doctors have linked female hormones to geographic tongue because of the instances of it in both pregnant and menopausal women. The onset of puberty does not seem to be a factor, however, and most female children who have been diagnosed with it are infants or toddlers. That is what makes this condition so puzzling; if hormones are to blame for it, why does it not present with every hormonal condition? While more cases have been reported in pregnancy, where bodily changes are significant, there seems to be little link between geographic tongue and the menstrual cycle. It is not completely absent during this time, but fewer cases have been reported.
This may suggest that certain pregnancy hormones may trigger it, a case made even stronger when the condition often vanishes postpartum. If pregnancy hormones are a large contributor to geographic tongue, they are certainly not the only cause, however. Women who are entering the end of their child-bearing years have also reported moderate to severe cases as well, both new and returning. While the hormones triggered by both pregnancy and the change of life in women are different, the link between the two is the body’s ability to reproduce. Women who believe they might have it or who are experiencing a spike in symptoms should consult their physician for a diagnosis and advice on how to manage them.