Some aspects of having a period get more attention than others. For example, menstural cramps and sore boobs are discussed more often than others. Bloating is another. But there’s one common symptom that, for whatever reason, gets less buzz: period poop.
Yup, it’s not just you—pooping habits can get weird during your period. “Many people do get bowel changes just before or during their period,” Kyle Staller, MDA gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General HospitalSELF is told by. This could include a variety of things, including period constipation and period diarrhea. Some people may just poo more than usual during this time of the year.
You might have just noticed that period-poop is a problem and are curious what is going on. Perhaps period poop has become a problem for your body and you need a solution right away. It doesn’t matter what your problem is, understanding your body and finding a solution can help you understand your body. Here’s what you need to know about this totally normal phenomenon.
What are period poops and how do they work?
Period poops are a term that describes changes in bowel movement occurring around the time of their menstrual cycle. This phenomenon can be attributed to hormonal fluctuations, just like other period wonkiness. “The reason that this happens is largely due to hormones,” Dr. Staller says. This includes constipation occurring before your period, and then following by diarrhea or excessive pooping when aunt Flo is actually in town.
Pre-period constipation can be caused by an increase of the hormone progesterone. This hormone increases between ovulation, when you get your period, and the time between.1. Progesterone can slow down food’s movement through your intestines. This can help you stay on track.
But progesterone levels plummet at the same time as your period starts.1. Simultaneously, there’s an increase in hormone-like compounds in your body called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are made by cells in your uterus, also known as endometrial. They are released as your uterus’ lining breaks down. These chemicals cause blood vessels and muscles to contract in the uterus. Prostaglandins can get into your bowel muscles if your body has high levels.
They can cause your intestinal muscles to contract, just like your uterus, and push out fecal matter fast. Ashkan Farhadi, MDA gastroenterologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical CenterSELF. Fun fact: Prostaglandins may also be responsible for painful menstrual cramps that you might experience every month. This is why you might experience diarrhea or poop more often during this time of the year.
All of this can be different for everyone. However, constipation and diarrhea may be a sign of a problem.
Can period poop change be caused by health conditions?
Certain health conditions like endometriosis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or ulcerative colitis, can flare up during menstruation, leading to bowel changes. If you have Crohn’s disease (which can cause diarrhea) or IBS-D (a type of IBS that causes diarrhea), your body’s release progesterone during your period could exacerbate your condition and make it worse. IBS-C (IBS causing constipation) can make it harder to have bowel movements during your period. This is because progesterone further slows the activity of your bowels. You might notice an increase in constipation or diarrhea during your period, as ulcerative colitis can cause both diarrhea and constipation.
What does it mean to poop during your period?
There are a few reasons why you might feel uncomfortable pooping on your period. If it’s something you notice here and there—especially if you’re dealing with a lot of diarrhea—it could be a side effect of diarrhea itself, like cramping in your stomach or even irritation around your anus from going so often, Dr. Farhadi says.