As is the case with perhaps every woman, there can be little doubt that you’ve grumbled and whined about your period woes (especially those dreaded cramps and bloating)! You may have also wondered why you just can’t seem to keep those bathroom runs under control.
Well, the good news is that as icky as it makes you feel, pooping more around that time of the month is completely normal and can be explained by simple science.
Proximity To The Colon
The most obvious connection between your reproductive cycle and digestive function boils down to basic anatomy. Before you get your period, the lining of your uterus starts to get thicker. Because of the fact that the colon is so near to the uterus, the thickening and engorgement of the uterus increases pressure on the colon, often leading to constipation and bloating.
Once that time of the month kicks in, the uterine lining is expelled and as the uterus deflates, it makes it easier for things to go smoothly. Of course, very often, things tend to go a bit too smoothly!
Chemical Signals At Work
“Prostaglandins are the chemicals that send out signals to help the uterus contract & shed its lining”
Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that are important to various bodily functions, from regulating the contraction and relaxation of certain muscles, as well as the dilation and constriction of blood vessels. In this scenario, the chemical specifically promotes muscle contractions.
As it turns out, some of the stray prostaglandins can travel up to your bowels, doing what they do best – signaling contractions. These bowel contractions inevitably lead to a poop overdrive – though this isn’t all.
For some women, their uteruses work overtime and the prostaglandin production is more than the usual amount. For these women, instances of diarrhea are common during their periods. (And you thought you had it bad!)
Hormones Play A Part Too
“Progesterone levels drop down dramatically during your periods which leads to smoother bowel movements”
Progesterone is an important hormone in the female reproductive system. The levels of this hormone start to spike during pregnancy, causing an all too familiar pregnancy side effect – constipation. Because of it’s constipating effect, it would be safe to assume that it would have the opposite effect when levels are low.
During your menstrual period, progesterone levels drop to their lowest. As a result of this, your poop tends to flow more easily, which is why you may experience diarrhea.
Now that you know, you’re not the odd one out and that many other women share the unpleasant experience, with plenty of alone time on the pot during their periods, you can breathe a sigh of relief. In addition, try looking for ways to cope with and minimize the problem.
Start by altering your regular diet to include more high-fiber foods, whole grains, and fresh veggies. Limit the salt, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine intake, and cut back on dairy and spicy foods too, just before and after your periods. In addition to minor dietary changes, try to lower those stress levels with some relaxation techniques, or better still, take up yoga. Find what works for you and you won’t have to groan about that annoying period diarrhea much longer.