If you’ve found that your diarrhea appears before you have your period, you’re not alone. Many women report that, together with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), they often experience severe diarrhea symptoms. Diarrhea right before your period is something many women have in common. One thing is for certain: a woman's menstrual cycle and the functioning of her digestive system are definitely linked.
Why do you get diarrhea before your period?
Levels of progesterone and estrogen increase during certain times of the month. There are receptor cells for these hormones in your gastrointestinal tract. This suggests that the gastrointestinal tract is designed to sense and react to them.
Apart from hormones, another cause is the increased amount of prostaglandins. If they are produced in a large amount, prostaglandins can get into the muscle that lines your bowels. This may cause your intestines to contract and push out things quickly.
Diarrhea a week before period: is it normal?
The majority of premenstrual symptoms begin 1 to 2 weeks before your period. They can last until seven days after the start of menstruation.
When your period is around the corner, digestive symptoms tend to fall to the extremes. Some women get constipated, and others have diarrhea. One study has shown that 73% of women experience at least one of the primary gastrointestinal symptoms either pre- or during menses. Roughly 24% of women said they experience diarrhea before period, while 28% experience diarrhea during their period.
Diarrhea right before period: a symptom of PMS?
IBS experts have found that all women are more likely to experience bloating and constipation in the days of the month following ovulation.
However, things start to change as women get closer to their period. In the days right before their period, women are more likely to experience diarrhea and abdominal pain. Diarrhea right before period is normal and in most cases, a healthy diet and medicine can make the symptoms go away.
How to treat diarrhea before period
Many women have found that you can take some steps to reduce diarrhea symptoms. The treatment options include:
- Drinking plenty of water to ease your abdominal bloating.
- Exercising daily to decrease bloating and diarrhea.
- Taking vitamin supplements, such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B-6.
- Maintaining a caffeine-free diet.
- Eating a nutritious diet to improve your overall health. This means eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Reducing your intake of sugar, salt, and alcohol.
- Sleeping at least eight hours per night.
- Reducing stress through exercising or reading.
- Going to cognitive behavioral therapy.
You can take pain medication and pills to stop your diarrhea symptoms, only after speaking with your doctor.
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You should see your doctor if your diarrhea starts to affect your daily life or if your symptoms don’t go away. Your doctor may do the following tests to rule out other medical problems:
- a physical exam
- a gynecological exam
- a complete blood count
- a liver function test
Your period and the severity of your symptoms are definitely linked. Although they can occur before your period, many women find that their symptoms get worse when they have their period. For some, their bodies are more reactive to food in the days during menstruation, particularly gassy foods.
In addition to diarrhea during period, having IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) also appears to put women at a higher risk of:
- painful cramping
- difficulty concentrating
- water retention
Is diarrhea a period symptom?
Some women find that during the days immediately after ovulation in the menstrual cycle, symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating and constipation can get worse. Others report that they have an increase in the severity of symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and bloating, during their period.
Is it normal to have diarrhea on your period?
Diarrhea during period is a pretty common complaint. The hormone progesterone and prostaglandins, during your period, can make the smooth muscle in your intestines more or less active. It's not worrisome unless it causes such severe gastrointestinal pain that it keeps you from leaving your home.
If you notice that your diarrhea is bloody, that can be endometriosis, and you should see your ob-gyn as soon as possible.
Causes of diarrhea during period
The exact reasons why diarrhea occurs during your period aren't fully understood. The most likely cause is prostaglandins, chemicals released during your period that allow the uterus, and thus the intestines, to contract.
While prostaglandins have many great qualities, they often end up coming into contact with other organs, like your bowels. They send that “squeeze” message to your bowels and they go into overdrive.
How to stop diarrhea on period
There are things you can do to manage the symptoms of diarrhea during period:
- Eating a fiber-rich diet.
- Taking hormonal birth control pills as they regulate the amount of prostaglandin being produced in your body. Before taking the pills, you should consult with your doctor.
- Taking medication that relieves menstrual symptoms.
- Staying well-hydrated by drinking a lot of fluids.
- Exercising regularly.
- Investing in a heating pad or hot water bottle.
- Taking a calcium supplement.
UNC School of Medicine