Period Poops? Bloating? What's happening?

Period Poops? Bloating? What's happening?

Belly aches? Bloating? Period poops? Why do we have these symptoms when we’re on our periods?


One of the most common period symptoms is digestive distress. It’s experienced by over 70% of women, so you’re not alone in having these symptoms. It might be part of your monthly routine, likely caused by hormone changes.


During the week leading up to your period, known as the luteal phase, progesterone levels are high. The body releases this hormone to prepare for pregnancy (or your period if pregnancy doesn’t occur), progesterone also slows down the processing of food in the bowels, causing constipation. To combat this, researchers recommend eating fiber in the days leading up to your period. Sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. See our guide on nutrition throughout the period cycle for more.


To start bleeding, progesterone levels decline, causing prostaglandins to be released. They cause contractions in the uterus, leading the lining of the uterus to be shed as blood. Unfortunately, prostaglandins can also act on the digestive system… meaning the bowels also contract, causing digested food to move faster. This can can lead to diarrhea and bloating. When experiencing these symptoms, remember to hydrate with water and electrolytes. 


Tips to optimize digestion:

  • Eat lots of fiber during the luteal phase
  • Stay hydrated during your period
  • Movement helps to aid digestion and can ease bloating and discomfort
  • Avoid foods that upset your stomach

By Carlyn Johnson

Sources:

Dysmenorrhea: Painful Periods. (Last updated December 2020). American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/dysmenorrhea-painful-periods#:~:text=This%20pain%20is%20caused%20by,level%20of%20prostaglandins%20is%20high.  

Hydovitz J. D. (1968). Prostaglandins and diarrhea. The New England journal of medicine, 278(16), 915. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejm196804182781626 

Moore, J., Barlow, D., Jewell, D., & Kennedy, S. (1998). Do gastrointestinal symptoms vary with the menstrual cycle?. British journal of obstetrics and gynaecology, 105(12), 1322–1325. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-0528.1998.tb10014.x

Wald, A., Van Thiel, D. H., Hoechstetter, L., Gavaler, J. S., Egler, K. M., Verm, R., Scott, L., & Lester, R. (1981). Gastrointestinal transit: the effect of the menstrual cycle. Gastroenterology, 80(6), 1497–1500.
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