Have you ever noticed there’s something a little, well, different about those poops you have when you’re on your period? You might think that weird poops are a ‘you thing’ but believe it or not, weird bowel movements on your period are just as common as cramps, mood swings or breakouts. There’s a scientific study confirming that at least 28% of people with periods experience diarrhea when they’re menstruating. And yet for something so common, we barely talk about it. Until now. *cue evil laugh*
What are period poops?
Period poops are bowel movements that typically happen at the start of your period. They’re usually a bit more, um, loose or slippery than a normal poop and you might find yourself running to the bathroom more often. Not following? We’re talking diarrhea or diarrhea-adjacent here.
What causes period poops?
In addition to cramping, acne and mood swings, the hormones that induce your period can also affect your precious digestive system. Let’s start with a group of them called prostaglandins.
Just before your period begins, the cells that line your uterus begin to produce more prostaglandins. These hormones cause the muscles in your uterus contract so it can shed its lining each month aka your period. Whenever you feel a cramp, that’s a contraction!
If your body produces extra prostaglandins they will flow into your bloodstream and have a similar effect on other muscles – like your bowels. Just as they made your uterus contract, they will also cause your intestines to contract. The result? More poop, more often.
There’s also progesterone (what some birth control pills are made of), which amps up hunger and causes cravings for foods high in fat or sugar. Your body has a harder time digesting these foods, which also explains why your poops feel, look or even smell different when your period starts.
How can I stop period poops from happening?
The same way you can’t stop the motion of the ocean or the sun in the sky, there’s no way to really halt the pooping process. While you’re going to just have to ride this one out, here are some tips to make you feel better.
Fruits and veggies: When you’re on your period, eating lots of natural fiber like those found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains will help keep your digestive system on track.
Move around: Exercise can be a pain in the butt, but moving around does help relieve bloating, pain or discomfort.
Get some help from ibuprofen: Not only will this help with the pain from cramping, but it also helps to slow prostaglandins roll, limiting those pesky intestine contractions.
Do I need to see a doctor?
Period poops are as common as cramping during your period, so you only need to see a doctor if the pain is really bad or if you’re unable to concentrate in school, work, or your hobbies. If your period is regularly a disturbance in your daily life when it comes around (ie. incredibly painful, downright debilitating), we recommend discussing treatment options with a medical professional.