Why is period poop the worst? Top 6 questions, answered.
Yep period poop is 100% a thing. … and nope it’s not just you? It’s pretty common in the sisterhood to experience some level of change in frequency, consistency and smell of poop during our period... we just don’t always talk about it. Can’t think why…hmmm. Doesn’t mean its not happening…
Ok lets go.
1. Why can’t I stop?
The key players here are prostaglandins.
So just before your period begins, the cells that make up the lining of your uterus known as endometrial cells begin producing more prostaglandins. These chemicals stimulate the smooth muscles in your uterus to help it contract and shed its lining each month.
If your body produces more prostaglandins than it needs, they’ll enter your bloodstream and have a similar effect on other smooth muscles in your body, like in your bowels. The result is more poop.
Stronger cramps, headaches and nausea? You guessed it, due to the over production of prostaglandins aka increased inflammation in the body.
2. Why does it smell so bad?
This is most likely because of your premenstrual eating habits. The culprit this time; for the change in your food cravings is the hormone progesterone.
Progesterone helps regulate your period. It rises before your period to help prepare your body for conception and pregnancy.
High levels of progesterone during the premenstrual phase have been linked to that feeling of ‘I need, just can’t stop eating’. This explains why you want to stuff all the feels and irritability down with ice cream and chocolate at that time of the month.
The change in your eating habits can cause foul smelling stool and those pesky period farts.
Resisting the urge to overeat and avoiding refined sugars, saturated fats and processed foods can help.
3. Why do I sometimes get constipated?
Yup you guessed it, hormones again. Low levels of prostaglandins and an increase of progesterone; which again starts to increase just after ovulation and when you get you period, can cause food to move more slowly through your intestines causing your poop to back up.
If you have period constipation upping the fibre in your diet, exercise, and drinking lots of water in that period after ovulation when progesterone is on the rise can help keep things moving.
If you’re really stuck, a gentle liver and digestive herb mix could do the trick.
4. Why do I get diarrhoea?
It’s those pesky excess prostaglandins again, they don’t just make you poop more. They can also give you diarrhoea.
So perhaps if you’re a coffee drinker and tend to drink coffee to help perk you up during your period and you know coffee tends to make you poop more, then cutting back is your best bet if you find it makes your diarrhoea worse. And, unfortunately there isn’t much joy in switching to decaffeinated coffee either, since it also has a laxative effect.
If all else fails, just focus on drinking lots of water or your favourite herbal tea to prevent dehydration.
5. So how can I stop over production of these prostaglandin during my period?
You can absolutely support every day healthy production of prostaglandins and progesterone; this can reduce these changes on your bowel and poop behaviour, as well as pain, cramping and headache prior or during your period.
Everyday anti-inflammatory eating
Foods to include:
· Fresh fish: rich source of essential fatty acids omega 6 and 3 regulate inflammatory response.
Other sources of essential fatty acids; Evening primrose oil, black current seed oil, and star flower seed oil, linseed and canola seed oil, walnut oil, dark green leafy veg
· Fresh fruit and vegetables: high in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, bioflavonoids, quercetin and bromelain to support
immune function, anti-inflammatory enzymes, antioxidants, for healthy tissue formation and integrity;
· Nuts and seeds
· Cook with coconut oil: it has anti-oxidant, ant-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal activity. It is cardio protective, highly nutritive; zinc, selenium, vitamin C and B groups, balances blood sugar levels.
Coconut oil has a high heat tolerance it can be heated to 120°C before damage reducing the exposure to free radical damage.
· Herbal teas: anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant.
Green tea, rooibos tea, jasmine, chamomile, peppermint, rosehip, nettle, dandelion tea.
Foods to avoid:
· Trans fats and saturated fat and animal protein intake: eliminate highly processed foods, reduce intake of red meats, and high-fat processed meats such as bacon and sausage, organ meat, bacon, sausages, egg yolk and prawns.
If the intake of any of these foods is high, it can cause an increase in prostaglandins production that causes an inflammatory effect on smooth muscle tissue ie causing muscle spasm, constipation and diarrhoea.
· Sugar and artificial sweeteners: Eliminate added sugars by decreasing your consumption of soft drinks, pastries, sweets, rich desserts and pre-sweetened cereals.
· Highly processed foods, fast food and take- away: additives, chemicals, colourings and preservatives.
· Cut back on refined white flours in bread and pasta (look for 100% whole-grains instead).
· Nightshade family; including eggplant, tomato, potato, capsicum
· Milk, dairy, all cheeses and eggs
Other inflammatory toxins to avoid: cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, drug over use, exposure to environmental toxins, free radical damage, injury, mental and emotional stress, bacteria, parasites, fungal or viral infections.
Move ‘ze body!
Especially the lower body, hips and legs. Get your heart rate up. Dance, jog, walk, cycle, swim, yoga … these all keep the energy moving, we have a lot going on in the pelvic area as women. So, moving this area will certainly help prevent blood, hormones and other bodily fluids stagnating or becoming congested in your tissues, especially the bowels.
Slow, distance exercise. This is when rhythmic and repetitive exercise is sustained at a moderate pace for about 3/4hr to 1hr 1-2 x weekly.
This has the ‘chill factor’ too, calming the nerves and adrenal response and improving stamina.
H2O H2O H2O
Increase water intake to 2L daily; buy a 1L drink bottle you love and fill twice daily. Simples.
A splash of chlorophyll in your drink bottle can be helpful here, it not only has a minty fresh taste, it’s also high in magnesium, supports deeper absorption of the water into your cells, is alkalising (anti-inflam), and offers a gentle detox nudge to your liver to support hormone metabolism, and reduce fluid retention… bonus!
6. Nothing seems to help, should I be concerned?
If you can’t seem to find relief from your monthly poop issues or are having severe or persistent symptoms, an underlying gastrointestinal or gynaecological condition could be why.
Some common conditions with symptoms that are influenced by your menstrual cycle include:
polycystic ovaries syndrome (PCOS)
irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Talk to your Doctor or Naturopath if your symptoms persist or get worse, or if you experience:
· severe cramps or abdominal pain
rectal bleeding or blood when you wipe
mucus in your stool
Treatments are available that can help
Your periods don’t need to be any crappier- literally- than they already are!
· Tricky R. Womens Hormones and the Menstrual Cycle, 2nd ed. Allen and Unwin 2003