The symptoms of a stomach ulcer in people assigned male at birth may differ in some circumstances from people assigned female at birth. But across genders, stomach ulcer symptoms are largely the same.

Stomach ulcers (also called peptic or gastric ulcers) happen when stomach acid or bacteria wear away the mucus lining that protects the inside of your stomach, causing painful sores.

Read on to learn what symptoms of a stomach ulcer might be different in people assigned male at birth, what can increase your risk of developing a stomach ulcer, and when to contact a doctor.

Language matters

In this article, we talk about stomach ulcer symptoms in people assigned male at birth. Your gender identity may not align with the sex you were assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.

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People assigned male at birth have no additional symptoms of stomach ulcers than people assigned female at birth.

Burning abdominal pain between your chest and belly button is the most common symptom of a stomach ulcer or peptic ulcer disease (PUD). The pain may feel especially noticeable when your stomach empties a few hours after you eat and feel better after you eat a meal.

Other common symptoms of a stomach ulcer include:

All genders are equally at risk of developing stomach ulcers. Research is not conclusive about whether people assigned male or female at birth are more likely to get ulcers.

A 2016 study involving 14,290 Korean men and women who took the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2008 and 2009 found that men were slightly more likely to have stomach ulcers. But the survey population was limited to people in Korea and was focused on sleep rather than ulcers.

The biggest risk factors for stomach ulcers in males include:

Stomach ulcers happen when the natural mucus lining of the stomach is worn away.

This can allow stomach acid or infections to irritate the stomach tissue or even wear a hole completely through the stomach, a process also known as gastric perforation.

There are two common causes of stomach ulcers in males:

  • overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), bacteria that live in the stomach but can become infectious when they grow uncontrollably
  • using NSAIDs for a long period of time

Other possible causes of stomach ulcers include:

A condition called Zollinger-Ellison syndrome can also cause stomach ulcers because of increased acid production in the stomach, but it’s incredibly rare.

Abdominal pain and other stomach ulcer symptoms can be signs of other conditions, including:

Get immediate medical attention if you have severe symptoms of a stomach ulcer, including:

Some tests doctors use to help diagnose stomach ulcers include:

Treatments for stomach ulcers depend on the cause and can include:

Here are questions commonly asked about identifying and treating stomach ulcers.

How do I know if I have an ulcer in my stomach?

Abdominal pain that gets better after you eat and worse a few hours after you eat is the most distinct symptom of a stomach ulcer.

What is the fastest way to cure a stomach ulcer?

Reduce or stop any activities that harm your stomach lining, such as taking NSAIDs or drinking alcohol.

If you have an H. pylori infection, rest and take the antibiotics that your doctor prescribes.

People assigned male at birth have no additional stomach ulcer symptoms than people assigned female at birth. Most symptoms are similar.