Poop & Your Period

I can always tell when I’ve gotten my period by the type of poop I take when I wake up. You know the one: heavy-duty, smelly, feels like your insides are falling out… just to wipe and see a nice thick streak of red. Oh yeah, baby. It’s here. It’s completely natural to get rocked by your period poops or not be able to poop at all! Changes in your consistency, frequency, and smell are all normal parts of your menstruation, but why specifically does it happen?

Why do I poop so much on my period?

Everyone knows that your menstrual cycle constantly has your body’s hormones in flux. You did know that, right?? Well, they do, and these ever-changing hormone levels can affect more than just your uterus and breasts; they can affect your bowels, too. Aren’t our bodies awesome?

The diarrhea and/or constipation you may experience during your period is actually caused by prostaglandins, the compound responsible for signaling your womb muscles to contract and shed the uterine lining. If your body produces too much of this compound (which many people do), it leaks into your bloodstream and affects your bowels and digestive organs, triggering some truly poopy times.

AND/OR

Why do I poop so little on my period?

Lower than normal prostaglandins levels have the opposite effect, causing constipation and irregularity during your period. As it builds up in your body, it can slow the digestive system and cause stomach aches, infrequency, and inconsistency in the texture of your poops.

Other health conditions, such as IBS, endometriosis, or typically painful periods, can also cause constipation, as they can couple with bloating and weight gain during menstruation. No matter the reason, eating foods high in fiber or taking a mild laxative will help clear you right up.

Why does it smell so bad?

Another question you might be asking yourself is, “Why does my poop smell so bad during my period?” The answer to that is not related to any hormones or wayward bodily compounds but actually rests squarely on your shoulders.

Odd (or very bad) smelling poop during your period is tied to your pre-period cravings and what kind of food you’ve been eating. When you binge on high fat, high sugar foods outside of your normal diet, the result can be temporarily catastrophic for your bowels.

Yes, people love to joke about how badly they need a pint of ice cream when their flow is starting, but do they stop to consider how their roommates will feel in their shared bathroom the next day? Heavy is the head that wears the crown. So even though your period doesn’t directly cause stinky poop, the cravings brought on by your cycle do...I’m sure your roommates will understand.

What do I do!?

Though it’s still one of the more taboo subjects for polite conversation, everybody poops. If you tend to be plagued with period-related diarrhea, taking an anti-inflammatory (Ibuprofen) just before your period starts will block some of the prostaglandin production and ease bowel troubles. It’s also a 2-for-1 since it also helps relieve cramps.

If you’re constipated, eat high-fiber foods, such as pears, avocados, nuts, or even popcorn to get things moving down there again. So yeah, period poops can be annoying and not necessarily the way you planned to start your day, but there are options for managing them and continuing on like usual.