For those of you who know the distinction between "period poop" and normal poop, this article is for you. For many women, pooping is a whole different experience when they are on their period.
Rushing to the toilet seems to be common for many of us on the first few days of our periods, but why is that? Why do we poop so much more when we're on our period? What makes this time of the month different for our digestive system?
Whether your poop is more runny, more painful, smellier, or you just can't poop at all on your period, we have answers for you! There are reasons this is happening, and in this blog post we will answer what period poop is, why it happens, what you can do to make it better, and why you poop so dang much on your period.
What is period poop?
First, let's start with the basics. Even though this term isn't in the medical dictionary, "period poop" is commonly used amongst those who have changes to their bowel movements when they are on or about to be on their period.
When we talk about period poop, we're referring to the changes in our bowel movements that can happen around the time of menstruation. Just like everything else with our bodies during this time, hormones are to blame! The same hormones that cause cramps and bloating also affect our bowels.
Some of the main symptoms of period poop include:
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in your stool
- Changes to the consistency of bowel movements
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
- Upset stomach
Normal poop VS period poop- How to tell the difference
There are some clear distinctions between normal poop and period poop. To begin, period poop happens on or around the time of menstruation. The most obvious distinction is the presence of blood. This can happen because during your period, the shedding of your uterine lining can also include some blood vessels in the lower part of your intestine.
Additionally, period poop can be more painful than when you normally have a bowel movement. This is because of the inflammation in your digestive system that is caused by hormones.
Changes in the consistency of period poop are also common. This can look like diarrhea or constipation, or even a change in color. The difference between period diarrhea and IBS-related diarrhea is that period diarrhea happens around the time of your period and goes away when your period is over.
Finally, period poop may smell different or stronger than what you're used to. This is because blood has a distinct iron smell, and when mixed with stool, it can create a stronger odor.
Why are these changes happening to us you ask? Keep reading.
Why do I have period poop?
When your period is about to begin, lots of things are happening to your hormones as they prepare for menstruation. There are two hormones that have a direct correlation to the changes in our bowel movements, and those hormones are prostaglandins and progesterone. These can cause our bowels to be more irritable and produce looser stools or constipation.
Prostaglandins- Why you may poop more on your period
Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that help shed the uterine lining during our period. These substances also contract the uterine muscles, which can cause cramps. Prostaglandins not only cause contractions in the uterus, but cause contractions (aka cramps) in our bowels, which can cause anal pain, diarrhea, irregular poop, or constipation. When these levels are high, we tend to poop more, which could be one of the main reasons we have "period poop."
In addition, you may have diarrhea when you're on or about to be on your period. This is because prostaglandins cause your body to absorb more water. More water means softer stool, which can lead to diarrhea. Consider staying away from caffeinated beverages like coffee or energy drinks on your period because caffeine has a laxative effect, which could make things even runnier.
Progesterone is another type of hormone released into your body as part of your monthly cycle. Progesterone is a hormone that helps to thicken the uterine lining to create a healthy space for a fertilized egg to develop if you happen to become pregnant. When this hormone is released in high levels, it can cause constipation. The rise and fall of progesterone throughout your period is why you may experience different types of period poop, like diarrhea at the beginning and constipation towards the end.
For people living with existing bowel issues, such as Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), progesterone can worsen their symptoms.
Progesterone and constipation
When there's more progesterone in our bodies, it slows down the movement of our bowels. The result? Constipation!
Additionally, during our period, the levels of progesterone in our bodies are at their lowest. This can also lead to looser stools because there is nothing slowing down the movement of our bowels.
Your period alone can be a trying time for your body. Menstruation can irritate or inflame the lining of your rectum and anus, which can make pooping more difficult and painful. In addition, some period products can also irritate your anus or rectum, like tampons.
Tampons that are left in for too long can cause a condition called toxic shock syndrome (TSS). TSS is a rare but life-threatening bacterial infection. One of the symptoms of TSS is diarrhea. It's important to change your tampon every four to eight hours, or as directed by the tampon manufacturer.
Why is it painful to poop on my period?
There are a few reasons why period poop can be more painful than usual. First, like we mentioned earlier, prostaglandins cause contractions in the uterus and bowels. These contractions can cause cramps not just in your abdomen, but also in your rectum.
Second, during your period, you are actually more sensitive to pain. This is pretty inconvenient considering some women already have painful periods as it is. So, when you have painful period poops, you may experience more pain or a heightened awareness of it.
Next, the inflammation caused by our period can make it more difficult to pass stool. This is because the swollen tissue can block the rectum or anus, making it more difficult for stool to pass.
Finally, some period products, like tampons, can irritate your anus or rectum, which can make pooping more painful.
Why do I poop so much on my period?
The simple answer is that there are a lot of changes happening in your body during your period. Hormonal changes, inflammation, and even some period products can all contribute to period poop.
The more complicated answer is, as explained previously, that there are a few different hormones at play: progesterone and prostaglandins.
Is period poop normal?
Period poops are NORMAL and can happen to even the healthiest of women with the most regulated hormones. When certain hormones fluctuate when women menstruate, prostaglandins and progesterone in particular, it causes some changes to our bowels. Because every woman has hormones and they fluctuate naturally on a monthly cycle, period poops are common! With that said, period poop can be different from person to person.
Rest assured that pooping more on your period is completely normal, girl!
How can I regulate period poop?
So, now that we know what period poop is and what's causing it, let's talk about how to deal with it.
There are a few things you can do to reduce negative symptoms of period poop.
Hydration is key
First and foremost, make sure you're staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water. This will help your body absorb more fluids and make softer stool. Drinking enough water helps keep stools soft, which can prevent constipation.
Second, avoid caffeinated beverages on your period as caffeine has a laxative effect and could make things runnier.
Eat to fuel!
If you find yourself struggling with diarrhea, adding in some extra fiber to your diet can help solidify things. Try eating a high-fiber diet including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This will help to add bulk to your stool and make things move more smoothly through your digestive system.
Even though you may be experiencing naughty food cravings, try your best to stay away from refined sugars and processed foods. These foods can cause further issues with your digestive tract.
Lastly, exercise regularly as this can help to stimulate a healthy and regular movement of your bowels.
Alright ladies, lets recap!
- The hormonal changes during periods can affect bowel movements.
- Symptoms of "period poop" usually start when your period begins but can also start before or during.
- Healthy women can experience period poops, too!
- Period poops during your menstrual cycle are completely normal.
- Period poops are essentially irregularities to your bowel movements.
- Periods alone can cause painful cramps, and period poops can make symptoms worse.
- Make sure you're staying hydrated, eating a balanced diet, and getting regular exercise!
So, there you have it, period poop 101. The next time you're on your period and feeling a little backed up, remember that it's not just you- it's your hormones!
We hope this article helped you understand period poop a little better. Remember, if you're ever concerned about your period or any changes you're experiencing, it's always best to seek medical advice from a medical professional. They can help determine if what you're experiencing is normal or if there might be another underlying issue.
Happy pooping! :D