It's painful and annoying, but it is completely normal.
What can be more annoying than knowing that you will soon start menstruating? For many, with periods come a week of feeling weak mixed with heightened emotions and unbearable cramps. The hormonal shifts around this time of the month can also affect bowel movements, more popularly known as "period poop." The annoyance can rise by a few notches during period when one also feels the need to run to the toilet every few hours. Though it feels like something unusual, as per a reported study approximately 73% of women experience symptoms related to period poop during menstruation.
It is as though ailments during periods like headaches, bloating, and skin breakouts, weren't enough, that women also experience changes in digestive system and bowel movement during period. For the record, a change in the consistency, frequency, and smell of your poop during your period is very common, reports Healthline.
Just before the start of your period, the cells that make up the lining of your uterus begin producing more prostaglandins. These are basically chemicals that stimulate the smooth muscles in your uterus, so it can shed the lining easily. This, when mixed with your blood, has the same effect on other smooth muscles in your body, including bowels. Thus, it results in more poop.
“It makes sense if you think of the cycle,” family medicine physician Donald Ford, MD, MBA, Chairman of the Department of Family Medicine at Cleveland Clinic says. “Until ovulation, the uterus is preparing to accept the egg and, once it starts, the opposite happens — it’s cleansing to get ready for the next cycle.”
Progesterone, a period-related hormone, can either cause loosies or constipation. Since progesterone is responsible for the growth and thickening of the uterine walls, which peaks right before ovulation, it causes a buildup of the hormone which causes bowel issues. “Progesterone typically promotes constipation, which tends to come around ovulation or a couple of days after,” he says.
If you can manage a light version of your typical workout or even a brisk walk, exercise may help give you a mood boost, reduce your discomfort, or it can even help get your system going if you’re constipated, says Christine Greves, MD, an ob-gyn at the Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, per Woman's Health.
Since uterine and bowel contractions are caused by prostaglandins, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two. But symptoms like bloating, abdominal cramps, and water retention are all due to your uterus. “While these symptoms may feel like they’re taking place in your stomach, they’re actually happening in the uterus,” Dr. Ford explains.
There can be many reasons to see a doctor during periods. But here are three that you need to consider and not miss a visit to the doctor for a check-up: a) If your period poop symptoms feel unbearable and hamper your normal day-to-day function. b) If your period triggers bloody diarrhea or unbearable abdominal pain and you can't eat, which could be endometriosis, a condition where the cells that line your uterus pop up elsewhere. c) If symptoms like cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation get worse, which could be a gastrointestinal condition.
Though unpleasant, period poop and related symptoms end as period ends. For all else, the best person who can help you will be a specialist.
Cover Image Source (Representative): Getty Images | Denis NovikovDisclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.