Every month, women experience the varying phases of the menstrual cycle and the side effects it has on the body. Symptoms can range from harsh cramps to uncomfortable bloating, and more. Because of the fluctuations in hormone production during this time of the month, symptoms can have adverse effects on the body and make for unpleasant side effects.
In general, most of these symptoms are chemical-oriented and only last for a short time, although they often group together and are not fun to deal with. Along with the most commonly associated changes to the body as a result of menstrual hormonal fluctuations, changes in the bowel system can also become elevated.
Diarrhea, gas, and constipation are quite common experiences triggered by menstrual cycle hormone levels. Many women experience menstrual-related diarrhea as a result of these changes to their bowel movements, making for uncomfortable symptoms.
Diarrhea can occur prior to or during the menstrual cycle for a number of reasons, but it is mostly due to chemical changes in the body during this time. It is often associated with menstrual cramps, and will occur at the same time cramps are being induced. This is because both are caused by prostaglandins, a chemical released during menstruation that allows the uterus to contract.
This same chemical will cause the bowels to contract as well, affecting the bowel movements. In this case, women will likely experience diarrhea during the first three days of their period.
While prostaglandins certainly make your bowels contract and cause diarrhea symptoms, the hormone progesterone can also have adverse effects on your bowel situation. Progesterone is a chemical produced during the menstrual cycle that helps your body regulate its period, and is a naturally muscle relaxing hormone.
Therefore, when a lot of progesterone is getting produced, it can wreak havoc on our bowels, which can then lead to a dramatic drop in progesterone levels and have you running to your bathroom.
Similarly, bowel movements are often affected by changing hormonal levels, and some women can even experience constipation as a result during their period as well. Diarrhea can also be a symptom of premenstrual syndrome occurring the week before the period, grouping together with other associated symptoms, such as bloating and mood swings. However, all women are different in terms of the level of their hormones and may experience different symptoms of diarrhea at different times throughout their cycle.
If you experience regular diarrhea, you may need to get checked out for the possibility of irritable bowel syndrome, which can worsen during your period. Uterine cramping is commonly associated with nausea and diarrhea during menstruation, yet painful occurrences can be an underlying indicator of endometriosis, a menstrual condition in which the uterine lining tissue grows outside the uterus.
How to control it
Women can take on a variety of different remedies to manage their digestive problems during their period. Switching up your diet to integrate more high-fiber foods and vegetables, while lowering your intake of salt, dairy, sugar, alcohol, spicy foods, and caffeine, can alleviate symptoms. Fiber helps solidify loose stools and reduce diarrhea.
Drinking lots of fluids to remain hydrated is also important in managing diarrhea symptoms and staying healthy, since constant bowel movements can leave you dehydrated. Mediating levels of stress through daily relaxation techniques or exercise can also decrease the severity of diarrhea symptoms during the menstrual cycle.
Some women may resort to taking medication during their period to manage their digestive issues. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil and Aleve can help decrease levels of prostaglandin, the chemical that can cause a disruption of bowel movements. Popping an ibuprofen before your period starts can interfere with the production of prostaglandin and prevent diarrhea from happening before your cycle even starts.
Anti-diarrheal medications such as loperamide are also a popular remedy used.
Loperamie can help alleviate diarrhea symptoms and even prevent them if taken before symptoms start. Medicines that serve to prevent or manage PMS or menstrual cramps can also help soothe symptoms of diarrhea by lessening the contractions of the intestines. Many women take birth control pills as well to prevent ovulation and also prevent the symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle.
While diarrhea is certainly a gross and unpleasant side effect to deal with, it is relatively common among women during their menstrual cycle. It is only if the symptoms persist and worsen that you should seek advice from a medical professional.