IBS and Your Period: What You Need to Know
I've already mentioned in a previous post about thrush and your period that I have recently started taking healthy gut supplements. These supplements have really improved my gut health which I have been monitoring due to my family history. My Mum has suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) for many years, and in fact this has recently turned into a fully blown coeliac disease diagnosis, so I am always interested in how gut health can be improved.
That's why I was interested to learn more about the intriguing connection between Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and your menstrual cycle.
You may have noticed that your IBS symptoms can be influenced by the different phases of your menstrual cycle, we're here to shed some light on this fascinating topic. So, grab a cup of tea, get comfortable, and let's dive into the world of IBS and your period:
- Can IBS Affect your period?
- Can IBS Stop Your Period?
- How to help IBS during your period
- What Are Period Poops?
- Is it period poop or IBS?
The short answer is yes, and you're not alone in experiencing this phenomenon! According to Healthline, experts reckon that more than 50% of women with IBS symptoms experience worse bowel symptoms during their period.
Sex hormone and the hormone progesterone fluctuations that occur during menstruation can wreak a bit of havoc as they play a role in your gastrointestinal tract and digestive system, causing IBS symptoms to flare up.
Estrogen and progesterone reductions prevent smooth muscle contractions in the intestines, which impacts gut motility and may be the cause of heightened IBS symptoms during periods.
So, if you've noticed that your tummy troubles become more pronounced during that time of the month, don't worry—it's a common occurrence.
In addition, you may notice that your period cramps feel worse too. That's because oestrogen affects how the body uses the feel-good hormone serotonin, which raises your pain threshold to help you manage pain such as period cramps.
If you experience terrible cramps at the beginning of your cycle, a dip in oestrogen levels may be the culprit. Our wearable heat pads are brilliant for relieving IBS pain and period pain to take a look.
No, IBS Can't stop your period. Your menstrual cycle is influenced by a complex interplay of hormones, and IBS can't disrupt this natural process.
So, even though dealing with IBS during your period can be challenging, at least you can take solace in knowing that Aunt Flo won't stand you up!
When it comes to managing your IBS symptoms during the days of your period, we've got your back (or rather, your tummy). Here are some cheeky tips to help IBS during your period:
- Avoid Trigger Foods: We know all about period food cravings, but try to identify foods that may trigger your IBS symptoms such as caffeine, lactose and fizzy drinks and steer clear of them during your period. Choose fruit and vegetables low in fructose too, such as berries, citrus and bananas rather than apples, pears and dried fruit. It's time to bid farewell to those troublemakers and embrace gut-friendly options.
- Stay Hydrated: Keeping yourself hydrated is key to supporting healthy digestion. Sip on water, herbal teas, or infusions to stay refreshed and help ease any discomfort.
- Get Moving: Regular exercise can do wonders for your digestive system. Gentle exercises like walking, yoga, or dancing will keep things flowing smoothly and help those pain-killing endorphins kick in which is also great for managing any mood swings which might be coming your way
- Prioritize Self-Care: Stress can exacerbate IBS symptoms, so pamper yourself with self-care activities like taking relaxing baths, meditating, or indulging in your favorite hobbies.
Now, let's talk about something which we've probably all experienced but NEVER discussed: period poops.
As female sex hormone levels drop, cramps and GI symptoms such as constipation, bloating, and bowel movements increase. It's like your digestive system decides to join the menstrual party!
Period poops refer to changes in bowel movements that occur around the time of your period. You might encounter some delightful surprises like constipation or loose stools —oh, the joys of womanhood!
Here's the scoop: period poops and IBS are similar but different. Period poop tends to be a temporary disruption in your digestive system that occurs before or during your period. On the other hand, people with IBS often have ongoing bowel problems outside of your menstrual cycle when hormones fluctuate.
If your tummy is acting up exclusively during Aunt Flo's visit, you can blame it on those pesky period poops!
We hope this cheeky journey into the realm of IBS and your period has been interesting and informative. I've certainly learned that period poops aren't just in my head!
Remember, you're not alone in navigating these peculiar connections between your gut and your menstrual cycle. If you'd like to explore more topics related to sustainable living and self-care, feel free to visit our blog. You might find our reusable toilet paper articles well worth a read:
About the author: Helen Rankin is a Mum of 4 and founded Cheeky Wipes, the original reusable wipes kit back in 2008 after disposable wipes caused her eczema to flare up which means she's got an ongoing interest in immune reactions and gut health. The Cheeky Team went on to develop their range of 'Simple Reusables' to include period pants, reusable sanitary pads and reusable makeup removing pads. The team pride themselves on providing relatable friendly advice and just LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods all day long!