In fact, crappy symptoms like , bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation can be pretty common during that time of the month, says , an ob-gyn at the . Nearly three-quarters of menstruating women say they have GI issues before their period, and another two-thirds get them during their period, per a . The most common complaints: abdominal pain and diarrhea.
So, why must the period fairy bless you with period diarrhea on top of ? Read on for the answer, plus how to make period poops and gas a lot more bearable.
Tell me: Why do some people get diarrhea before or during their period?
While more studies are needed to determine *exactly* why women get diarrhea before and during their period, research suggests that hormone-like substances called prostaglandins and the sex hormone progesterone could be to blame, says Dr. Greves.
Heres what happens: A few days before your , the lining of your uterus begins to break down and releases prostaglandins which cue the smooth muscles in your uterus to contract. If you have an excess of prostaglandins, though, your uterus could really start squeezing (the result: ). If that Contract, now! message spreads even further, your intestines might start to wobble, too. When that happens, whats inside doesnt have much of a chance to harden, which might be why you get period diarrhea.
Towards the end of your cycle (a.k.a. the luteal phase, when the lining of your uterus thickens up again), your progesterone levels go up . More progesterone stops all of those contractions and tells your bowels to slow downwhich is where period-induced constipation can come in (yay!).
Certain conditions can exacerbate the situation, too. Some women who have a retroverted uterus, for example, (which isn't dangerous and requires no intervention) have more bowel issues because the uterus pushes down on the large intestine.
Keep in mind, though: This is a *rough* guide to how your period might mess with your digestive system, but everyones different, says Dr. Greves. The key is to and learn how to cope accordingly.
Are there any ways to control poop problems related to my period?
If youre dealing with mild GI issues, consider a trip to your local CVS for some over-the-counter solutions and a heating pad for your lower belly.
Depending on your symptoms, you could try anti-diarrheal meds like loperamide (Imodium) or bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) for closer-to-normal poops or an anti-gas med like simethicone (Gas-X). As long as they , non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve), can actually to ease your belly aches and cramps.
If you can manage a light version of your typical workout or even a brisk walk, exercise may help give you a mood boost, reduce your discomfort, and help get you going if youre , says Dr. Greves. Switching up your diet before and during your period could also help keep your symptoms in check. When you know your periods on the way, avoid (like beans, broccoli, and dairy), and if you tend to get backed up, eat more (like fruits, veggies, and whole grains).
One thing you shouldnt do: Try to self-treat period diarrhea thats become totally life-disrupting or lasts way longer than your cycle.
Does period diarrhea ever warrant a doctors visit?
Yes. When youre in intense discomfort (think: you cant show up for work, sit still, or think about much of anything besides your out-of-whack digestive system), its time to call a doctor.
If youve been having GI symptoms like cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation that get worse during your period, you could have a gastrointestinal condition like or , so youll want to ask about visiting a specialist. If your period triggers bloody diarrhea or abdominal pain so bad that you can't eat, you may have , a condition where the cells that line your uterus pop up elsewhere, and you should definitely see an ob-gyn for a checkup.
Otherwise? Give it a few more days and hang in there. Thankfully, you only have to deal with this crap .