When you get your period, a lot of things get thrown off their normal course - your appetite, your mood, your sex life, your sleep habits, your exercise routines. . . you get the picture. But what about your bathroom habits? Does your poop change on your period? You may have noticed that your poop can indeed change when you're on your period. For some women, that means going more often, while for others that means being a bit more constipated than usual. Some women even experience bouts of diarrhea while menstruating. But why?
Board-certified OB-GYN Dr. Allan Warshowsky, a told Good Housekeeping that pooping more or having diarrhea while on your period is cause by the increase of prostaglandins, which are similar to hormones and send signals to various body parts that your period is a go. According to Broadly, your body uses prostaglandins to prevent blood loss when on your period, which can cause more of your soft muscle tissue (like that in your colon) to contract, causing you to feel like you need to go number two. Pleasant, right?
Dr. Francisco J. Marrero, a gastroenterologist at the Digestive Disease Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, told Everyday Health that hormone levels change how you poop, which makes sense, given your hormones are at different levels while you're dealing with the wonder that is menstruation. According to Popular Science, diminishing levels of progesterone also cause women to poop more while on their periods, which happens right before you begin your period. At about the middle of your period, progesterone levels are back up at a higher level, which, according to Popular Science, makes some women feel constipated.
In addition the physical reasons, there are some psychological ones as well. OB-GYN Dr. Jennifer Gunter told Women's Health that stress can make period pooping worse because of the neurons that run all through your gastrointestinal tract. Stress can make all manner of period-related symptoms worse, so trying your best to keep calm during that time of the month can help things go smoother.
For some women, uncomfortable and unpleasant period poop experiences can be managed with over-the-counter treatments and supplements or changing up your diet. Dr. Robynne Chutkan, a gastroenterologist and author of Gutbliss, told BuzzFeed Life that starchy foods can help with diarrhea and fibrous foods can help with constipation. Also, according to the aforementioned article from Women's Health, popping an ibuprofen about 24 hours before you expect your period to start can help restrict the amount of prostaglandins that are released, which can, in turn, help keep bowel movements in check. Hormonal birth control pills can also help keep things running fairly normally because, according to the previously-mentioned Popular Science article, they also limit the release of prostaglandins, which is also why they usually help ease the pain of uterine cramping.
Ultimately, weird poop habits is just another thrilling side effect of getting your period. Although there are some things you can do to try to minimize the effect it has on your life, for some women, it's just a normal part of that time of the month.