Being especially gassy just before your period starts is just (another) one of those things that comes with life as a menstruating being. And yes, you might already have guessed this, it’s caused by fluctuations in hormones, particularly oestrogen and progesterone.
Ready for the science? Just before your period, the cells in the lining of your uterus produce prostaglandins. Prostaglandins help the uterus contract, so it can shed that lining every month, and get ready to start the cycle anew. But here’s the downside of that; if your body produces too many prostaglandins (and it well might), the leftovers enter your bloodstream and cause other muscles in your body to contract and yes, that includes those in your bowels. This can lead to what doctors call flatulence, and we call period farts.
If the occasional audible trump (sorry Donald) isn’t bad enough, then get ready for the smell. The double whammy of contracting bowel muscles and changes in gut bacteria that happen about the same time, makes for a pretty potent colonic cocktail. Add junk food into the mix and well, you might not be terribly nice to be near.
But this is no time to give up and lock yourself away! Remember that this is all perfectly natural. Unpleasant maybe, embarrassing potentially, but natural, 100 per cent. Here are a few ways to silence the period farts – or at least turn down the smell-o-meter a few notches.
- Eat slowly so digestion can happen at the right pace.
- Avoid the usual fart-inducing foods such as cabbage and beans.
- Drink plenty of water. This helps the waste keep moving on through.
- Stay away from fizzy drinks. The last thing you need right now is more gas.
- Exercise will keep you regular and prevent constipation – being bunged up will make the smell even worse.
- Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about OTC drugs that might help.
Oh and while we’re on the subject of wind, it’s worth noting that your vagina doesn’t fart. That little expulsion of air that every woman experiences from time to time actually has its own name: a ‘queef’. It may sound like a fart, but that’s where the similarity ends. Those audible bubbles of air are simply that – the release of trapped air that has been pushed into the vaginal canal – generally during sex. Queefing can be pretty embarrassing, especially with a new partner, but it’s completely natural and completely uncontrollable, so don’t even try. If you feel you need to say something, tell your lover it’s because they are just so good. That should do the trick.