‘Why do I poop so much on my period?' is one of the most common questions both my patients and readers ask. Are you curious why your period makes you poop too? Ok, maybe it's not you…but you can ask for a friend, right?
This was Sonya’s question during our first visit when I asked about her period. “I get weird period poop,” she shared. “I always know my period is coming because I won’t be able to poop and then when it starts I can’t stop pooping. Is that normal?” she asked.
Like Sonya, you may have noticed that you get loose stools or diarrhea when you’re on your period. And like Sonya, I’d bet you’re having some serious cramps too.
How do I know you're having wicked cramps?
Period Diarrhea and Painful Cramps
Period diarrhea is a sign that you have too many prostaglandins. Prostaglandins cause uterine muscle contraction (aka menstrual cramps), which is a necessary part of your period. But they also affect the bowels. It’s kind of the worst to be having severe menstrual cramps plus diarrhea.
Prostaglandins are hormone-like molecules that are made from fats. They perform many roles within the body, including causing you to poop more.
Prostaglandins stimulate the muscles of the digestive tract to contract and relax, which is why your period can cause changes in your bowels. The more prostaglandins, the more likely you are to have what some women refer to as period diarrhea.
The result of too many prostaglandins is loose stools and painful menstrual cramps.
This was true for Sonya. She was hugging a heating pad, popping a lot of Ibuprofen, and was still doubled over in pain with every period. The trouble was her prostaglandins were too high—causing her to have significant cramps and feel like she couldn’t stop pooping during her period.
But what about constipation before your period?
Sonya was also having trouble pooping the week leading up to her period, which pointed towards progesterone. Progesterone relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract making it more difficult to get things flowing through the gut.
Progesterone is the main hormone of the luteal phase, the part of your cycle that follows ovulation. After you ovulate, a structure called the corpus luteum is left behind. Its job is to secrete progesterone, which is what makes your PMS way more manageable.
For Sonya, it wasn’t about having too much progesterone, but rather, not enough fiber rich foods leading up to her period. Like many women struggling with a hormone imbalance, she was craving and eating refined carbs which do not contain adequate fiber. Carb cravings are also common and can be a sign of a hormone imbalance.
Without fiber, Sonya's progesterone was able to slow things down significantly. When progesterone ramps up, the bowels slow and you become constipated. Then it drops. Boom! And this triggers your period.
Then the prostaglandins make their debut so that your uterus contracts and you shed the endometrium (uterine lining). Now your progesterone (bowel slowing hormone) is low and the prostaglandins are able to stimulate the bowels to contract. In some women this shift is abrupt and they experience period diarrhea.
If you’re constipated and not having cramps, well, it just may be that you aren’t making enough prostaglandins.
To balance prostaglandins and create a healthy gut Sonya needed to make some dietary shifts and add some supplements to help her turn her period problems around ASAP.
6 Ways to Manage Period Poop
Ditch the Fried Foods
For Sonya, the fried foods and refined carbs had to go. Prostaglandins are made from fats and if you’re eating inflammatory fats then those prostaglandins are going to make your periods a nightmare.
Avoid eating Omega-6 rich foods like canola oil, corn chips, fast food… you know, all that stuff you crave before your period.
Eat More Fiber
For Sonya, fiber was a must if she wanted to get rid of her cramps and keep her bowels moving. She did some meal prep and made sure she had plenty of vegetable snacks available for when the cravings kicked in.
She also added 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to her protein smoothies every morning the week leading up to her period.
After a full cycle of making these diet shifts, she was able to eliminate her constipation and found that her stools weren’t as loose as previous periods. She felt hopeful and was determined to continue leveraging her diet to improve her period.
Drink Green Tea
Green tea has been shown in some studies to reduce prostaglandins. Consider swapping out coffee for green tea or taking as a supplement.
For Sonya, she opted to take Balance by Dr. Brighten because it contains green tea, resveratrol, and hormone balancing herbs. As part of the Period Problems Kit™, Balance has helped many of my patients reduce PMS, period cramps, period diarrhea, and optimize their mood.
Take a Quality Probiotic
Good gut bugs are amazing for period problems, especially those that cause you to poop too much!
In my medical practice, I recommend Women's Probiotic to all my patients struggling with digestive and hormone symptoms. It is a blend of five spore form Bacillus strains specifically designed to support gut health and rebalance flora. This synergistic blend of organisms produces potent antioxidants to protect against free radical damage.
Women's Probiotic is part of the Period Problems Kit™, a complete set to help women banish their period problems.
Add More Magnesium
To get a handle on menstrual cramps and period diarrhea fast, we started Sonya on additional magnesium.
Magnesium has been shown to be more effective than placebo in positively helping lower prostaglandins and easing menstrual cramps. Win!
If you’re a woman who already has loose stools before your period then taking magnesium citrate can make diarrhea worse. Nobody wants that.
In my medical practice, I recommend my Magnesium Plus supplement to all my patients who experience menstrual cramps and don't need help pooping more.
It contains Magnesium Bisglycinate Chelate, which has been shown to reduce pain associated with menstrual cramps. This form is highly absorbable, meaning it is quickly absorbed and better retained by the body compared to other forms.
Sonya began 2 caps of Magnesium Plus nightly and then increased to 2 caps twice daily five days before her period. Within her first cycle she noted she was experiencing few cramps and needing much less Ibuprofen.
Licorice is an adaptogenic herb that helps keep cortisol around longer. It is beneficial for adrenal and overall hormone health.
There have been studies that show licorice reduces prostaglandins and thereby, reduces dysmenorrhea (the medical term for period cramps) and loose stools that come with your period.
Clinically I’ve found that cravings as part of PMS reduce significantly when the adrenal glands are supported.
Sonya’s period problems were fading, her poop was no longer “weird” and her constipation was non-existent.
Another bonus to making these simple changes was that Sonya noticed her skin was looking better, her energy wasn’t as low before her period and after a couple of months, her cravings were almost completely gone.
Now I want to hear from you!
Leave me a comment below and let me know…
Have you ever experienced this?
Did this article help you understand just what is up with pooping so much on your period?
Have you tried any of these recommendations and did they help?
Let me know! I'd love to hear from you!
Period Problems Kit™
This comprehensive hormone support protocol will help you say buh-bye to PMS, while supporting increased energy, mood, and libido. Balance your hormones naturally and ditch the bad moods, bad skin, and bad periods for good with our Period Problems Kit™.
- August DA1, Landau J, Caputo D, Hong J, Lee MJ, Yang CS. Ingestion of green tea rapidly decreases prostaglandin E2 levels in rectal mucosa in humans.. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1999. 8(8). 709-13.
- Imai A1, Horibe S, Fuseya S, Iida K, Takagi H, Tamaya T.. Possible evidence that the herbal medicine shakuyaku-kanzo-to decreases prostaglandin levels through suppressing arachidonate turnover in endometrium. J Med. 1995. 26(3-4). 163-74.
- Yang R1, Yuan BC1, Ma YS1, Zhou S1, Liu Y1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27650551. Pharm Biol. 2017. 55(1). 5-18.