What's the Deal with Period Poops?
It’s your time of the month and not only are you fighting the beast within, deathly cramps and other super fun symptoms, but you find yourself running to the bathroom for #2, quite a bit more than normal.
For what it’s worth, period poops are a real thing and it is totally normal for your gut to be more sensitive, creating that urge to go poop more often during your cycle.
Blame the hormones (again)
We can blame those hormones for those period poops! Hormones are responsible for an array of symptoms during that time of the month. One of those symptoms is increased gas, bloating, and you guessed it, pooping. Prostaglandins are chemicals in your brain that, when released, tell the uterus to contract, which can cause cramping and shedding of the uterine lining (the bleeding during your period). Some leftover prostaglandins reach your bowel, causing it to contract, in return causing gas and making you poop. It may even cause you to have an increased urgency when you need to go poop.
Progesterone plays a part
Progesterone, a female hormone secreted by the ovaries, fluctuates during the 28-day cycle but is at a low when you have your period. When pregnancy happens, progesterone levels are high. When it is high, it may cause constipation, which many pregnant women complain about, sometimes needing stool softeners. When you are not pregnant, and it is that time of the month, progesterone levels are low, causing occasional diarrhea.
Reducing your Risks
Remember, it’s totally normal. But, as it’s not super pleasant, here are some ways to help you cope with your period poops:
- Change your diet – As much as you crave junk food on your period, switch it up. Try lower sugar foods with high fiber. This will help bulk up the stool. Avoid bowel stimulators, which will make you go, like prunes and coffee.
- Relax – Stress can bring on an urge to go as well. What can you do about stress? Try not to think about it. There are tons of neurons in your bowel that sense anxiety, and that, when triggered, will make you need to go more.
- Take Motrin – If you take an anti-inflammatory before your period starts, you can mask the cramping that leads to you having to poop. Aim to start it before your cycle to get the optimal effect, otherwise, you’ll be playing catch up.
If you notice it really is too much, or it’s affecting your daily life, talk to your doctor. Some women are diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which may need medication or stress therapy.