A lower esophageal sphincter that does not tighten properly, allowing acids to flow from the stomach to the esophagus, causes heartburn in women and men, notes WebMD. Pregnancy is one of the causes of too much pressure on the stomach and changing hormones that can lead to heartburn.
Overeating and specific foods and drinks, such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, onions, coffee and alcohol, can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to fail to tighten properly, leading to heartburn, states WebMD. High-fat meals and medications can also lead to heartburn, as can pressure on the stomach from constipation and obesity. People are at higher risk of getting heartburn if they smoke or suffer from lack of sleep or stress.
Pregnant women are at high risk of suffering from heartburn, particularly in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, explains WebMD. Hormone changes in pregnant women can affect both the muscles of the digestive tract and women's tolerance for various foods. Pregnancy hormones can also cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, allowing stomach acid to move into the esophagus, causing heartburn. The enlarged uterus in a pregnant women can crowd the stomach and push stomach acid into the esophagus. In rare cases, pregnant women develop gallstones, which can also lead to an increased risk of heartburn.