Yeah, you read that right. While you might find it uncomfortable (and even a little gross), if you find that your poop seems to change in sync with your cycle, rest assured — you’re not the only one. Research shows that 73% of women experience some sort of gastrointestinal symptoms (that’s stomach/bowel-related symptoms to you and me) both before and during their period. That includes constipation and diarrhea. So even if no one seems to talk about it, take comfort in knowing it’s definitely not just your body that experiences these changes.
In this article, Dr. Sara Twogood, obstetrician and gynecologist, California, US, walks us through how to best deal with period poop, while explaining why it happens in the first place.
What causes period poop?
Figuring out the causes of period poop can be tricky, as there are so many elements at play. But some of the changes that occur throughout your menstrual cycle, such as hormonal, mood, and physical changes, can mess with your digestive system a little bit. In turn, this can result in some changes to how, and how often, you poop. In some cases, for example for people who have irritable bowels, Crohn’s disease, or endometriosis, this might be especially true.
Why might you poop more on your period?
Do you find that you generally tend to poop more on your period? There’s a reason for that. Let’s delve into it.
When your period starts, your body releases fatty acids called prostaglandins. These cause the smooth muscle of your uterus to contract and shed its lining, which in turn leads to the bleeding you’ll experience during your period. So far, so helpful. However, those pesky prostaglandins can also cause you to feel some abdominal cramping as they get to work, resulting in uncomfortable and painful period cramps. That’s not all; they can also have an effect on your bowels, leading to an increase in your poop or even, yep, diarrhea.
“Prostaglandins make the smooth muscle of the colon [part of your large bowel] contract faster, and that makes it more active. That’s what causes the poop to come out differently,” explains Dr. Twogood. “Most people have looser poop when they’re having their period, especially the day before a period starts and the first two to three days of a period.” Makes sense now, huh?