As if cramps, bad temper and cravings weren’t enough already. Many women suffer from indigestion during their periods. But why is that? How exactly are cycle and digestion related? That’s what we clarify.
Digestion and menstruation: It’s those hormones again
Although the reasons are still not fully understood, it is believed that hormonal changes are responsible for digestive problems during the menstrual cycle. Indeed, prostaglandins, the hormones released during the menstrual cycle, also appear to play a key role in digestion. Prostaglandins are known to cause painful contractions in the uterus and increased bowel movements. The results are often diarrhea or flatulence.
On the other hand, the ovarian production of progesterone increases rapidly before the period and can often cause constipation. During menstruation, however, the production of progesterone falls sharply and in turn causes the opposite effect: diarrhea. That explains why so many women often have to urgently seek out the toilet throughout their period.
How an unhealthy diet during the period can add to digestive problems
In addition, many women tend to eat unhealthily whilst menstruating. Food cravings are often to blame for the increased consumption of sweet, oily and fried foods. But even if pizza, chips and chocolate are good for the soul, the same cannot be said of their effects on the gut. Add work stress into the mix, and digestive disorders during the period are only intensified.
The bad news is that digestive problems during the period can’t be entirely prevented. The good news is that by taking special care the symptoms can be reduced. Rest, relaxation, and a nutritious diet, for example, can all help to relieve digestive problems during menstruation. Meanwhile, eating bland foods for a few days may calm down the bowel. And pharmacy remedies can help too: anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen contain an active ingredient that prevents the production of prostaglandin.
But most importantly, always remember: you are not alone, and many women share your suffering!