It’s not just your imagination: Period poops hit different than your average bowel movement. Whether you experience pain, diarrhea, or have to make a few more trips to the bathroom while on your period, it’s all a part of menstruation. Don’t you just love it?
We know you may not feel comfortable asking your friends, or even your doctor, about this topic. So we called up Dr. Sonia Bahlani, a gynecology and urology expert who specializes in pelvic pain, to ask the hard-hitting questions — including but not limited to: Why do I poop so much on my period?
How do periods affect bowel movements?
Your menstrual cycle has two major impacts on number two’s: Constipation and loose stools. It all comes down to the hormones and chemicals your body produces on your period. Here’s why you may experience…
Constipation typically happens before your period, around ovulation. Your body produces more progesterone — which is responsible for thickening the uterine walls, but can also slow down digestion. That may cause constipation. To reduce constipation, some experts suggest using a stool softener to help get things moving.
Frequent bowel movements and diarrhea
There are two main reasons you may poop more on your period — and even experience diarrhea. One theory is the progesterone we mentioned above, which drops around the start of your period and can cause loose stools. The second is hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. In addition to helping your body shed the uterine lining and causing cramps (thanks so much), they may also act like a laxative, explains Dr. Bahlani.
Diarrhea on your period can also be what Dr. Bahlani calls “a perfect storm.” On top of prostaglandins, a change in your fiber intake and how much water you're drinking can also affect your bowel movements. Basically, if any of your eating and drinking habits change during your period, it could contribute to period poops.
To help with these issues, taking ibuprofen before your period starts can help lower the production of prostaglandins and may ease cramps. But Dr. Bahalni warns not to overdo it with ibuprofen, because it can negatively impact your gut.
Why does it hurt to poop while on my period?
That stabbing pain when pooping during your period? Your pelvic floor may be to blame. When it contracts, it can stimulate the pudendal nerve, says Dr. Bahlani. That can trigger discomfort in the perineum, vagina, and lower abdomen, she explains. It may also be because of general inflammation during your period, which “can present itself in our pelvis,” says Dr. Bahlani. To help fix this issue, you could try ibuprofen to help reduce inflammation.
Why does period poop smell different?
Chances are it’s food related. When period cravings enter the scene and you start eating foods you normally don’t, it may impact the way your bowel movements smell. Sh*t happens.
Should I see a doctor about period poop issues?
If your period poops are pretty consistent from month to month, Dr. Bahlani says you can probably avoid the doctor’s office. But she suggests getting yourself checked out if you notice a sudden change to your bowel movements that you typically don’t experience or see blood or mucus in your stool.
As if periods weren't bad enough, there are also the period poops that come with them. While it’s probably not a topic you’d bring up over dinner or drinks, it’s something many women deal with regularly. So use this as your reminder that you shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about your period or the side effects that come with it.
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