It’s no secret that our menstrual cycles are annoying. But a frustrating symptom that no one talks about is Period Poops. The list of GI symptoms is endless and ever-expanding for some individuals, such as cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. There’s no need to feel singled out here if any of this sounds like you because you’re not alone. But what is causing this?
What are prostaglandins?
Prostaglandins are a type of fatty acid hormone and are responsible for your inflammatory changes. Your body creates prostaglandins right before your period starts. Prostaglandins cause the muscles and blood vessels of the uterus to contract to shed the uterine lining or essentially have a productive period or withdrawal bleed. When levels of prostaglandins are high, they can enter the bloodstream and begin affecting nearby bodily systems. All that cramping can really get the bowels moving. On the first day of your period, the prostaglandins in your body are high, which is why your period poops are usually worse at the beginning of your period. This is why pain and cramping tend to get better after the first couple of days of your period.
Wait, period constipation?
Alternatively, progesterone, another hormone, may impose the opposite effect, constipation. This hormone is responsible for the growth and thickening of uterine walls. Progesterone levels tend to peak just before ovulation or a few days after.
Suggestions to prevent period poops:
So how do we combat these hormones and fatty acids responsible for making our periods terrible? First, we can try cleaning up our diets. Eating healthy foods with plenty of fiber can help to alleviate constipation. And if you’re dealing with diarrhea, keep drinking plenty of liquids to replace lost fluid and electrolytes. Throwing in some healthy fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens is always a good idea too! Although no one wants to hear it, light exercise such as walking can assist with helping everything move through your system. Maintaining a consistent sleep/wake cycle and reducing stressors may also help ease symptoms. Your cycle may not be your favorite “time of the month,” but with a bit of understanding and lifestyle changes, you might be able to make it less of a nuisance.
*Disclaimer: If you experience diarrhea lasting more than 2 days, have blood in your stool, or suffer from severe physical or psychological symptoms, please seek medical attention. *
- Vasopressin and Prostaglandins in Premenstrual Pain and Primary Dysmenorrhea – Strömberg – 1984 – Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica – Wiley Online Library