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Period Poo: When hormones and your gut collide

So, here we are. Talking about period poo. But you know what? We’re glad we’re here. It may seem like a very personal subject, but the thing is, we aren’t suffocated into girdles anymore, we no longer (should) have to pretend that we don’t get periods, and, lo and behold, we have just as much right to discuss our bodily functions as anyone (especially when the topic wraps up two bodily functions in one!).

So once again – We’re glad we’re here. Talking about this sans cringe and full of human curiosity. Because why, friggin’ why, do our poo habits get so out of whack around the time of our periods? You might get the runs during your period. Or you might cop the opposite and get all blocked up just before.

Whatever camp you’re in, it’s all pretty run-of-the-mill. The frequency the consistency of your pooping habits can all change before and during your period.

Period poo? Really? You had me going there.

We’re so for reals. Here’s what’s going on.

For the blockers: An increase in progesterone can lead to pre-period constipation. Roughly one week before your period (in the middle of your luteal phase), your progesterone levels spike and you’ve got you a case of the bloats and constipation. Progesterone is like a relaxant, so your digestive system takes a chill pill and literally gets through things very. Slowly. Gas builds up and you just feel kinda… blocked. Having said that, research is still a little torn about whether progesterone is to blame, or if oestrogen is the one backing things up.

For the frequent poo-ers: Once again, prostaglandins, yup those same bad boys that help cause period cramps, can wreak a little bit of bodily havoc. If you have an excess of prostaglandins, these lipids will enter your bloodstream and help stimulate the smooth muscles in other parts of your body – like your bowels. Hello, poop!

Also, progesterone could be causing your diarrhea. The dip in progesterone just before your period, means that things start to run at their usual speed again (while they slowed down at their peak, during the luteal phase). That previous back-up is given the boost it needs to get on out.

Also, if you suffer from IBS, you might find that the symptoms worsen as hormone levels drop, which is during your period. Discomfort, constipation or diarrhea can be unwelcome, and intense, guests.

How do I make it better?

If you find yourself constipated, up your intake of natural fibre and water, and try to resist those fatty, processed bundles of carb-loaded delight you so crave while riding the PMS wave. Exercise can help, too.

If you get period-induced diarrhea, you might have to cut back on those natural laxatives. Yaaah, like, ahem, coffee (don’t shoot the messenger!).

For all cases, and as a general rule of life, don’t forget to prioritise your sleep and get some chill time in. As you can tell, your body is doing some serious shit. (Okay. That was an accidental pun. You get our drift…)

Watch and learn

We mean watch your pooping, or toilet, habits before and during your period. This can help you predict when you might need to leave a little bit of a time buffer in the morning so you can get all your bodily business out of the way. It can also allow you to shift your diet and lifestyle to avoid unnecessary stress, anxiety and discomfort.

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