Poop Talk: Why You Get Diarrhea During Your Period

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We're going to be talking about poop and periods, so if you’re squeamish or sensitive please take this as your official warning and remember to share this article with all the ladies in your life!

Most people shy away from talking about their poop but we really shouldn’t because our poop tells us so much information about our health! What does it look like, how does it feel, what colour is it, does it float or does it sink, how does it smell, and how often do you go. As a dietitian I talk about poop all day every day with clients, family and friends. Honestly, there is no such thing as TMI over here! Over the years, I’ve noticed an interesting pattern with my lady clients. When disclosing the details of their bowel movements with me, some commented that they experience diarrhea during their period, otherwise their bowel movements were normal. This got me wondering…is there any science behind this positive correlation? And surprise, surprise, of course there was!

The exact reasons why diarrhea occurs during your period isn’t fully understood

One explanation is the chemical prostaglandin. Prostaglandins are the chemical signals that are released during your period that allows the uterus to contract and shed the uterine lining. However, it seems like some excitable prostaglandins make their way to the neighbouring bowel where they also tell it to contract, leading to diarrhea.

Another explanation of this interesting correlation between having diarrhea during your period is progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone that naturally fluctuates with the menstrual cycle and because progesterone is a bit constipating its sudden decline during your period can make you feel like you really gotta go.

The body is so interesting!

How to mitigate the effects of diarrhea

Despite the exact mechanism still being unknown, we do know that this is a common occurrence in women and not something to be shy about. Talking about bowel movements should be a part of your daily lingo too! So, during your period to help mitigate the effects of diarrhea, make sure you are drinking lots of water and try incorporating some soluble fibre-rich foods such as: avocados, oranges, chia seeds, slow burning grains like quinoa, lentils or if you are feeling hard core reach for some psyllium husks.

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  1. Bernstein MT, et al. (2014). Gastrointestinal symptoms before and during menses in healthy women. DOI: 10.1186/1472-6874-14-14

  2. Why you get diarrhea, constipation (or both) during your period. (2018).
    health.clevelandclinic.org/why-you-get-diarrhea-constipation-or-both-during-your-period/