Let’s be real, even if you haven’t heard the term ‘period poop’ you’ve most probably experienced it before! Essentially it is the confusing and horrific onslaught of bowel activity that coincides with the beginning of your period each month.
It all starts at the time of ovulation. During this time the hormone progesterone is preparing the uterus for a potential egg. Well, another fun function of progesterone is that it tends to slow down the gastrointestinal tract motility - often causing constipation and contributing to that awful bloating we previously spoke about. Many women experience constipation in the 7-10 days leading up to their period, so if this is you, don’t stress! Just blame it on the hormones.
And then, just when you think the constipation will never pass, the total opposite occurs - diarrhoea. With the onset of a period, prostaglandins peak. Prostaglandins work by causing smooth muscle to contract. Whilst this is great for causing the uterus to contract and shed its lining, unfortunately the bowel is also lined with smooth muscle, causing pressure that’s been building in the lower abdomen to spew forth in a downpour of blood and poop. Menstruating is so wonderful am I right? So, what are my top tips for managing this glorious sensation known as the ‘period poop’?
1. De-Stress: Ironically, stressing about whether or not you’ll make it through your commute without having to use the (gross) train toilet can make your situation worse and make you have to go more. So relax, take a deep breath, and de-stress! If that means meditating, exercising or just listening to your favourite band - do whatever works for you to limit your stress during this time!
2. Avoid gastrointestinal stimulants: Whilst they may be great to use in the 7-10 days leading up to your period - once that period poop begins make sure you cut down on the foods/drinks that make your tummy work! These include things like coffee, prunes, high-fibre foods and too much water.
3. Take ibuprofen: Ibuprofen when taken 24hours prior to the onset of your period limits the release of prostaglandins, therefore minimising the amount that will affect the bowel and ultimately decrease your likelihood of experiencing that awful diarrhoea! The key however, is to start the ibuprofen before your period starts - otherwise, you’ll just end up playing catch-up and won’t get the same effect!
4. Consider the Oral Contraceptive Pill: Speak to your doctor about consider going on the pill. If it is a real over-production of prostaglandins, the birth control pill works to prevent this over-production, meaning your period will come with a lot less pooping!