Yes, no one wants to talk about faecal matter, but apparently there’s actually a biological cause as to why our bowel movements go cray-cray when it’s that time of the month.
It’s all got to do with our good ol’ hormones, says gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Kyle Staller, M.D.
“Progesterone can cause food to move more slowly through your intestines, backing you up in the process.”
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A doctor in your pocket.
Well that’s constipation covered, so what about the other end of the spectrum?
Well, prostaglandins are to blame, apparently. These hormone-like substances (which are also responsible for those painful AF cramps) are created in the lining of the uterus, which are released as the lining breaks down right before and during your period. And if your body produces more prostaglandins than normal, they can make their way into the muscle that lines your bowels and cause your intestines to contract, pushing out faecal matter quicker.
But these symptoms can vary between different people, and can flare-up if you struggle with a health condition such as endometriosis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or ulcerative colitis.
- Endometriosis: you may experience pain during bowel movements
- Crohn’s disease: your body’s release of prostaglandins during your period may cause you to poop more than usual
- IBS: production of progesterone will further slow your bowels’ activity, and may lead to constipation
What’s the best solution?
The most important step is listening to your body and understanding how it functions, explains Ashkan Farhadi, M.D., gastroenterologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Centre in Fountain Valley, California.
“If you always get diarrhoea during your period, and you know that coffee tends to make you poop more,it’s a good idea to cut back a little when you’re actually on your period,” Dr. Farhadi tells SELF.
“You can also take Imodium on the first day of your period in anticipation or diarrhoea, or carry it with you in case it strikes. If you deal with constipation during your period, try upping your fibre and water intake in the middle of your cycle, when constipation-prompting progesterone levels start rising.”
But of course, if you’re having a hard time with your period poop, then talk to your doctor for the best advice.