Your monthly ride on the crimson wave can lead to some annoying GI issues like PMS constipation. As if mood swings and cravings aren’t enough, being constipated before or during your period is totally a thing.
Here’s the lowdown on everything premenstrual constipation.
Those 1 to 2 weeks before your period (aka PMS or premenstrual syndrome) is prime time for GI probs as your body preps for Shark Week.
You might get constipated before every Code Red. Or maybe it only happens once in a while. Either way, period poop problems are totally normal. 💩
Other common PMS-related digestive issues include:
Blame it on your hormones. PMS triggers hormonal fluctuations that can wreak havoc on your bowels and make pooping seem impossible. But the jury is still out on which specific hormone is to blame.
Progesterone levels increase during or right after ovulation. According to Cleveland Clinic, some experts think that this spike can slow things down and cause constipation.
Other studies suggest estrogen is the true culprit. One 2013 study with mice found that increased progesterone levels had no impact on bowel movement, but higher estrogen levels did.
Keep in mind, more research on humans is needed to determine the actual cause for sluggish PMS poos.
The good news?
Most peeps notice constipation improves once their period starts. That’s when these hormonal levels start to go down.
Tired of feeling stopped up? Here are some ways to bolster your bowel movements and kick PMS constipation to the curb.
Get plenty of fiber
Fiber bulks up your turds. This makes your poop healthier and easier to pass. Try adding fibrous fruits, veggies, and whole grains to your daily diet.
Some fiber-friendly foods are:
You can also try to make some yummy high fiber snacks and meals.
Drink more water
Drink up! According to the United States Geological Survey, the human body is 60 percent H2O. One research review showed that not getting enough water can lead to side effects like fatigue, dizziness, and (you guessed it!) constipation.
Drinking the right amount of water is vital for a healthy digestive system. It softens stool and makes it easier to poop.
Work it out
Exercise can persuade your stubborn stool to make its grand poo-debut. You don’t have to do hardcore cardio if that’s not your thing. Gentle yoga or a light walk after you eat can do the trick.
Don’t hold it in
When you gotta go, you gotta go. If you feel the urge, hit the eject button on your bowels. If you hold it in, you can mess up your body-brain connection. Plus, poo gets harder because the fluids are reabsorbed if it’s in you longer. This makes it harder to pass.
Laxatives can be a quick fix, but you shouldn’t take them regularly. Def talk to your doctor first and make sure they give you the OK. Popular options include lubricant laxatives like stool softeners, mineral oil, or docusate sodium. Your doc can help you decide what’s best for your No. 2s.
Constipation is a total drag. Thankfully, there are easy ways to prevent it. Here are your best options.
Avoid dehydrating beverages
The first rule of pooping is, drink water. The second rule of pooping is, don’t drink stuff that dehydrates you. Consider avoiding diuretics — like caffeine and booze — during PMS.
Diuretics make you pee more, which reduces your bod’s water supply. This leaves less water for your poop to absorb, which it needs to slide on down your poop chute.
Healthy diet = happy poop
A healthy diet can work wonders on your poop. Make sure you’re eating lots of fresh produce, whole grains, and proteins. It’s better if you eat these foods on the reg, not when you’re already constipated.
Birth control pills
Hormonal birth control can help keep your hormones in check if they’re making you miserable. This might help reduce PMS side effects including constipation. Ask your doctor which brand is best for you. If you’re not a pill person they might suggest an IUD or another option.
Prescription poop meds
Is the constipation chronic? Your doc might offer a prescription medication. Some meds (e.g. lubiprostone or linaclotide) can provide relief in the long run.
Constipation is just one digestive issue that can happen during PMS. Here are some other common gut probs and what you can do about them.
Montezuma’s revenge. The trots. A case of the runs. Whatever you wanna call it, diarrhea stinks. PMS-related diarrhea might be caused by an increase in the hormone prostaglandins. But experts don’t know for sure.
What is known for sure is that it’s super common. In fact, one study found that diarrhea and abdominal cramping are the most common GI-related period symptoms.
What to do about PMS diarrhea?
Diarrhea can be triggered by dehydration. So, drink lots of water. You should also avoid foods that can make diarrhea worse like:
- spicy stuff
- boozy bevvies
- sugar substitutes
- lactose (aka milk and dairy products)
You can also try over-the-counter (OTC) medications to treat your trots. 🧻
Some folks get extra farty on or before their period. This gas is usually caused by fluctuating hormone levels.
What to do about PMS farts?
Cut out foods that make you fart. Some common culprits are broccoli and beans (the musical fruit). Carbonated drinks can also cause gas. You can also choose an OTC gas reliever.
Bloating can make you feel like you ate Willy Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstopper (minus the turning blue part). PMS-bloat is due to increased levels of progesterone and estrogen. These hormones can cause sodium and water retention, which leads to that pesky bloating.
What to do about PMS bloating:
Avoid high sodium munchies which make bloating worse. You should also factor in some extra water to help your body flush out excess fluid.
Period constipation is usually harmless. But you should talk to your doctor if it:
- becomes a monthly issue
- lasts more than 3 days
- might not be caused by your period
Seek medical attention ASAP if you have severe cramping or if there’s blood in your poop.
PMS constipation is totally normal and usually goes away once your period starts. But it’s still annoying AF. The good news? There are lots of ways to get your poo back in action. You’ll be poopin’ poops like a pro again in no time. 🚽