Are Period Poops a Thing?
Period poops. Nope, you’re not crazy, because yes, period poops are a thing, unfortunately. As if menstruators don’t have enough to worry about already, then come the loose stools, more cramping, headaches, and eliminations that happen so frequently that you are terrified at just the thought of having to leave the house; let alone the bathroom.
If you experience smelly, painful period poops, you’re not alone. And you’re likely the same person who experiences tough cramps, too. You can blame it on your hormones and bodily chemicals — progesterone and prostaglandins specifically — and those two conspirators who regularly come to visit with Aunt Flow are what’s increasing your need to go.
Are Period Poops Normal?
Here’s the deal: your menstrual cycle is a never-ending party (party?) of hormonal ebbs and flows that cause changes in your body. These hormones are the drivers of the menstrual cycle which oftentimes leaves women feeling like they’d better buckle up for the bumpy ride. But without these hormones, and prostaglandins in particular, the regulation of your menstrual cycle would not occur.
The increase, and also the lack of hormones and chemicals cause more frequent bowel movements. Plain and simple.
What Causes Period Poops?
Enter, prostaglandins. These hard-working hormone-like substances play a role throughout the body, and not just in menstrual cycles. They are produced on-site in nearly all of our body’s cells and are part of the way our bodies cope with illness or injury.
Actually, prostaglandins are the result of a complex, multi-step chemical reaction. (Isn’t the human body amazing?) And when high levels of prostaglandins are present we experience what is commonly understood as inflammation. They also repair damaged blood vessels by forming blood clots and can constrict blood vessels in an effort to prevent blood loss.
Prostaglandins are a normal, very important part of the body’s healing efforts and manage many processes, from healing to menstruation, and even the induction of labor.
As for our menstrual cycles, prostaglandins are what tell our uteruses to contract in order to expel its lining, better known as “having your period.” Prostaglandins are produced in your endometrial cells, (or your uterus’ lining), and when it’s that time of the month, prostaglandins tell your uterus to contract for its monthly clean-out. For many menstruators, period poops are a crappy side effect of the process as some prostaglandins cross over into your bowels.
Can you guess what effect they have there? Same one. Contract, contract, contract. The effect that prostaglandins have on your bowels is literally a pretty sh*tty one, and if you’re wondering how to stop period poops, you can’t really. You’ll just have to go with the flow—literally.
And those tough cramps we mentioned? Well, we created the first vitamin gummy with botanicals and vitamins targeted to help relieve some of them, (more on this later), but if you’re wondering what causes them in the first place, train your lens on prostaglandins.
When your body sends signals to your uterus to contract via the prostaglandins, those painfully intense squeezes are the cramps women experience. An annoyance at best — and at times — debilitating. The rule of thumb is the higher the level of prostaglandins, the more intense the cramps.
What Hormone Causes Period Poops?
Aside from the hormone-like chemicals, progesterone, an actual hormone, also plays a role in the period poops.
After ovulation, progesterone production ramps up in the luteal phase, or second half, of the menstrual cycle. It thickens the lining of the uterus in anticipation of pregnancy, and when pregnancy does not occur, it drops off sharply, yet another signal to our body that menstruation should occur.
A common side effect of increased progesterone is constipation, generally around the time of ovulation. The hormone’s peak during that time causes many people who menstruate to take a ride on the struggle bus because even though you want to go, the trip through the intestines is pretty slow.
As progesterone levels begin to fall, constipation wanes as our bowels begin to relax, yet another factor that can contribute to the dreaded period poops.
Period Poops are the Worst
Many women wonder how to deal with period poops. Now that you know the science behind period poops and that they are more than just a period poops meme you saw on Twitter, you’re probably wondering what you can do about them?
Us too. That’s why we created FLO Vitamins because PMS f*cking sucks, and FLO makes it suck less. Our key ingredients: chasteberry, dong quai, vitamin B6, and lemon balm supports menstruators all month long, but especially through their toughest time: PMS.
Period poops are a premenstrual symptom, as they can occur just before or during menstruation, and FLO’s unique, plant-based combination of botanicals and vitamins can help balance hormones.
FLO is a proactive approach to easing premenstrual symptoms, not snake oil or a cure-all. Chasteberry and lemon balm get to work on your mood, and dong quai relieves cramps. Vitamin B6 helps relieve cravings, a welcome addition since the increase in junk food consumption before and during your period is a likely culprit in the case of the gross period poops smell.
How to Stop Period Poops
If you’re still wondering how to prevent period poops, there are a few other things you can do to ease menstruation, reduce diarrhea, and support your overall health and wellness.
Exercising, although it's hard to get started when you’re on your period, can help to alleviate cramps and aids in healthy digestion.
Eating as best as you can (aside from the compulsive cravings), and especially adding more fiber to your diet can help prevent loose stools.
Taking an NSAID can block some of the prostaglandin production which may offer some relief from period poops. In addition, anti-diarrheal medicine may be a good option for some people who menstruate.
Stay hydrated, be gentle with yourself, and perhaps take comfort in the fact that indeed, period poops are a thing. They may be sh*tty, but it’s sometimes a relief to know what’s going on with our body, even though there is sometimes little we can control.
For more support throughout your cycle, and to learn more about a powerful blend of herbs and vitamins that have been used to alleviate cramps, mood swings, bloating and hormonal acne, read about and shop FLO by clicking this link.