The Link Between Digestive Problems & Your Period
Posted byErin Ollila
It’s that time of month where your mood swings from happy to sad to angry and back again. You’re enduring the cramps and headaches like a champ, but then the digestive problems hit: constipation, bloating and diarrhea. Why is your stomach going so crazy?
What Causes Digestive Problems Before Your Period?
You’re not even menstruating yet, but you know the time is coming without having to check the calendar. How? Most likely you’re feeling bloated or constipated. You’re not pooping as often as you’d like and your stomach feels like a hot air balloon. You know you didn’t eat anything out of the ordinary to cause these digestive problems, which means your period is right around the corner.
And it’s your hormones that wreak havoc on your system, says Today. “Some of the effects of progesterone—when it’s high, like during the luteal phase of menstruation, right after ovulation—include what doctors call delayed GI transit time, which means exactly what you think it does: food moves more slowly through your intestine, resulting in constipation and bloating.”
What Causes Diarrhea During a Period?
The bloating and constipation have passed, but you’re not totally out of the woods yet. Next, you may feel the pangs of diarrhea. You know, in addition to cramps and other the period-related issues you’re dealing with.
In a PBS Gross Science video, Anna Rothschild notes prostaglandins and progesterone are to blame for the loose stools.2 Prostaglandins signal uterine contractions that help shed the uterine lining every month. However, it might also signal the bowel to contract in the same way. Remember the progesterone that constipated you before your period even started? Well, levels of progesterone drop when you’re menstruating, which causes everything that was once bound up to now start loosening up.
Is It Possible to Reduce Digestive Problems Related to Menstruation?
Now that you have a general idea why you’re experiencing digestive issues, you may be wondering what you can do to ease the symptoms. Columbia University’s Go Ask Alice suggests watching your food intake, managing stress and exercising regularly to help lessen — though not necessarily relieve — digestive issues, such as bloating, diarrhea and constipation.3 Increase your fiber intake, practice deep breathing, and park farther away from your office to add a few more steps into your daily exercise to help your belly feel a little better even when prostagladins and progesterone have a mind of their own!
1Raymond, Joan. “Bloated belly? Why your hormones might be the secret cause” Today. Today, 18 Jul. 2016. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.
2Rothschild, Anna. “Three Surprising Questions About Periods.” PBS. 10 Feb. 2016. Web. 14 Jan. 2017. http://www.pbs.org/video/2365669526/
3“Gastrointestinal Upset Worsens around the Time I Get My Period.” Go Ask Alice! Columbia University Website, n.d. Web. 15 Jan. 2017. http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/gastrointestinal-upset-worsens-around-time-i-get-my-period.
- Posted by Erin Ollila
- On March 28, 2017