PERIODS AND POOP PROBLEMS
Why does it happen and how can you fix it?
Idries J. Abdur-Rahman, MD
For many women poop problems with their periods is just an unfortunate part of life. Usually the plumbing gets clogged a few days before your period is due and the dams break loose once your period actually does start. Yep, issues with the bowels are just another one of Mother Nature’s many surprises but, doesn’t have to be?
Why do so many women experience constipation before their periods?
So, what can you do if you experience constipation in the days before your period? Well, thankfully there are a ton of options including:
- Making fiber your friend. Everybody knows that fiber does wonders when it comes to regularity so make fiber a part pf your pre-menstrual diet.
- Prunes: They may not taste great but grandma was right about their benefits.
- Have a cup of caffeinated coffee: Coffee with caffeine has a host of benefits including its stimulatory effect on your intestines.
- Make sure you get enough hydration: Hydration is crucial for a number of reasons none the least of which is making you number one when it comes to number 2!
- Exercise and be active: Exercise is a great way to get more than just your heart racing.
- Take probiotics regularly: Probiotics do a lot of great things for your body including keeping the bacteria in your gut healthy. A healthy gut is a happy, regularly moving gut.
- Consider Senna: Senna is an herbal laxative that tends to be more gentle.
- Don’t be afraid of stool softeners: There are a ton of over-the-counter stool softeners that work well without causing diarrhea. Solace or Docusate is one of our favorites.
- If all else fails, consider laxatives: Laxatives are not for everyday use but sometimes you just needs a laxative to get things moving properly. If you take a laxative, make sure that you can stay around the house for a few hours, just in case.
- Birth Control Pills: Yes, birth control pills. One of the many benefits of birth control pills is the fact they keep hormone levels steady which amongst other things prevents constipation.
And what about diarrhea, why do many women have diarrhea during their periods?
So, now you know why you have diarrhea during your period, what can you do about it?
- Avoid deep fried foods: Deep fried foods get the GI tract moving faster than normal which increases cramping and diarrhea.
- Cut fatty and spicy foods: Fatty and spicy foods have the same GI effects as deep fried foods.
- Reduce caffeine: Caffeine is great for constipation but if your bowels are already loose, caffeine is just going to make that situation ten times worse.
- Avoid fiber rich foods and fiber supplements: Fiber does a great job softening stool but again, if your bowels are already moving a bit more than you would like, fiber will not be your friend.
- Avoid gums with sorbitol: Sorbitol also stimulates the bowels.
- Add a little Peppermint oil: Peppermint works wonders with slowing down the bowels.
- Over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications: Like Lo-Motil and Imodium work quickly and effectively.
- Ibuprofen and NSAIDs: NSAIDs not only help reduce cramping but they also reduce the prostaglandin levels which cause diarrhea.
- Birth Control Pills: Birth control pills not stabilize the levels of hormones but they also reduce the levels of prostaglandins.