Many women find that they experience diarrhea during their period. Though unpleasant and uncomfortable, digestive changes before and during your menstrual cycle are completely normal. Today, we’ll outline more information about what causes this unpleasant but common period problem, and what you can do to help alleviate it.
What Causes Diarrhea During Period Cycles?
Medical experts aren’t sure what exactly causes women to experience diarrhea during their periods, but most suspect it has to do with prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that can be found in nearly every organ of the body. They act as signals to control different bodily processes, depending on which part of the body in which they are made. In the case of menstrual cycles, prostaglandins are responsible for triggering the contractions of the uterus as it sheds its lining. They are also, however, involved in regulating the contraction and relaxation of the muscles in the digestive tract. This means that while prostaglandins are released during your menstrual cycle to trigger uterine contractions, they can also trigger contractions in your digestive system. The result is often diarrhea. Prostaglandins can also reduce the intestine’s rate of food absorption, (causing food to pass through your colon faster) or increase electrolyte secretions—both of which can also lead to diarrhea.
How to Help Eliminate Diarrhea During Your Period
Thankfully, it’s possible to treat and alleviate period-related diarrhea, just as you would any other diarrhea. Below are some tips for helping diarrhea during period cycles:
- Avoid Certain Foods: Caffeine, dairy, spicy foods, artificial sweeteners, or very spicy foods can exacerbate diarrhea. Steer clear of these foods as the time for your period approaches.
- Fiber and Probiotics: Try upping your fiber intake around the time of your period by eating more healthy grains, chia seeds, or other sources of fiber. It can also be helpful to eat yogurt or take a quality probiotic that will introduce more good bacteria into your gut and help counteract any diarrhea.
- Birth Control: Taking birth control pills can help regulate your cycle and reduce or eliminate diarrhea during period cycles. If you are interested in birth control for regulating your period or lessening other period-related symptoms, talk to your physician about what options are right for you.
- Stress Reduction: Stress can worsen menstrual symptoms, including diarrhea. This means that it’s especially important to try and minimize stress in the time leading up to your period. Exercise can be a valuable tool, as it has been proven to not only relieve stress, but also reduce menstrual-related symptoms.
When to See a Doctor
While minor diarrhea during the period is normal, you should contact your doctor if you are experiencing painful bowel movements during your menstrual cycles. Severe digestion issues can be a symptom of digestive issues, or possibly an indication of endometriosis (called rectovaginal endometriosis). See your doctor if you are experiencing irritable bowels, difficulty passing urine, diarrhea, painful bowel movements, bleeding, and constipation.
North Florida Ob-Gyn of Jacksonville Beach
Diarrhea during your period is completely normal and very common. Most women can find relief by implementing a few of the tips we’ve outlined above or trying OTC medications (such as Imodium) to help relieve any discomfort. If you are concerned about diarrhea or are experiencing other menstrual-related symptoms, it is important to consult with your physician to help rule out any underlying issues. At North Florida Ob-Gyn of Jacksonville Beach, we are committed to providing exceptional healthcare through a full range of obstetric and gynecological services in Jacksonville. If you would like to consult with our board-certified ob-gyn specialists, contact us today to make an appointment.