Ever wondered why you get constipated a few days before your period? Or why, during the first few days of your period, your system goes from being backed up to letting it all go at once? According to the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, 73% of women have digestive issues during their period. What’s the link between your digestive system and your menstrual cycle? Spoiler alert: it’s your hormones.
Keep reading for tips to help you better prepare for your period and keep things moving through your body as they should—no matter what time of the month.
Hormones Change Your Poops
When it comes to your ovaries, uterus, and digestive tract, what affects one affects the others.
During ovulation, your ovaries produce a hormone called progesterone, which helps build up the lining of your uterus, in preparation of housing a fertilized egg. Progesterone relaxes muscles in the uterus & intestines to muscle movement in order to keep that lining in place. That means digestion becomes slower, which sometimes results in constipation.
Once your uterus is ready to shed its lining, your progesterone levels drop, and muscle contractions increase. Because progesterone acts as a diuretic, when it drops, you’ll likely gain water weight and feel bloated as your body holds onto excess water. In addition to progesterone levels dropping, hormone-like fatty acids called prostaglandins begin to flood your system, which is what causes cramping.
At this point, your poop moves quickly through your intestines, possibly too quickly, leading to diarrhea. The major question here is, “how long does diarrhea during your period last?” The truth is, it could be a few hours, a few days, or not at all—depends entirely on the person. If you notice diarrhea becomes a frequent occurrence during your periods, the good news is there are ways to make it stop.
How to Tell the Difference Between IBS & PMS
While most women experience changes to their poops before and during the menstrual cycle, the timeline isn’t always the same. You might have regular inconsistent bowel movements that get worse during your period. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can mimic similar symptoms to PMS in the digestive system from bloating and gas to diarrhea and constipation. To help you tell the difference between hormonal period poops and IBS, you can use tracking apps like Cara Care & Bowelle, or keep a journal. And when you have your next chat with your doctor, share the information you collect. Normalize the conversation around your poops—it never hurts to ask. Everybody poops.
Tips to Relieve Uncomfortable PMS Symptoms
Hormones are tricky when it comes to your cravings. When they’re out of balance, you gravitate toward carbohydrates and sugar. If you’re experiencing frequent diarrhea during your period, it could be a sign that your body isn’t absorbing nutrients properly during digestion. If you tend to load up on fat and sugars before your period, you may not have enough fiber, potassium, or complex carbohydrates that keep your body fueled. Preparing your body for what it needs on and off your period can help keep your poops at a healthy consistency.
Pregame With Probiotics
We say it all the time: Everyone needs a probiotic in their lives. For women, probiotics are an easy way to help keep your body in balance. We also created FLO PMS Relief, formulated to help keep bloating down, lessen your cramps, proactively relieve hormonal breakouts, and curb mood swings. FLO Vitamins are made with all plant-based ingredients, so you’re not adding more hormones or medications to your body that you just don’t need. And, if you need more fiber in your diet, we recommend our GOGO Prebiotic Fiber Gummies to help you maintain a healthy gut.
Get Your Body Moving
According to a study by the National Institute of Health, light movements like yoga can help to reduce menstrual cramps significantly. Yoga’s movements can also help balance and lessen the production of inflammatory prostaglandins. Many yoga movements engage the core and pelvic area, improving blood flow while detoxing. While any low-impact exercise can work for your practice, it’s important to circulate nutrients through healthy blood flow. Try a few downward dogs or pigeon poses — you’ll thank us later.
Hydrate & Replenish Your Electrolytes
Our bodies are about 60% water — that’s a lot to maintain. Your intestines absorb most of your water intake when progesterone levels are high, which means your poops aren’t as soft as they should be. This creates a backup in your intestines; the dreaded constipation. Eating foods with high water content like watermelon, and drinking hydrating liquids such as salty broths can help (adding a little sodium is a great way to refresh your electrolytes).
PMS & Period Poops: The Conclusion
Periods affect everyone differently, so if you have questions about your symptoms then it’s best to talk with your doctor. There’s still so much to learn about the female body and how periods affect our daily functions. Listening to our bodies and tracking our feelings is important to make progress and take control—PMS doesn’t have to be your normal.