What is period poo and why does it happen?

constipated when on period

What is period poo, and why does it happen? 

Sometimes, having a period can be a bit crappy – literally. Yep, we’re talking about the infamous period poo. It’s a strange phenomenon but super common (don’t be shy, ask your friends).

In this article, we find out why you tend to poo more on your period, why it smells worse, why you can get diarrhoea, and whether there’s anything you can do about it so you can flush those worries away. 


Why do I poop so much on my period?

Simply put, you poop more than usual on your period because of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are a hormone-like substance that your body produces. During your period, your uterus produces these to stimulate and contract the uterus, and shed its lining. 

When these prostaglandins are in your blood, they don’t only stimulate your uterus to contract; they can also stimulate other organs, like your intestines and your bowels, to do the same. Hello, period poo. 


Why do I get diarrhoea on my period? 

You are more prone to getting diarrhoea on your period because the same hormones that cause those contractions can also reduce how effectively your body absorbs water, which makes your poo softer, leading to it becoming diarrhoea. 

Getting particularly stressed or anxious before or during your period can also affect your bowel movements – strange but true. If you regularly experience period poo, try to steer clear of caffeine; its laxative effect won’t help. 


Why does period poop smell so bad?

Your period poos might smell worse than usual because of a change in how you eat. Like most of us, you probably crave for extra sugar or comfort foods in the lead-up to your period. An excess in the amount of food you consume might explain why your poops smell. 

So, you can challenge yourself to choose healthier options. Or, maybe invest in some decent air freshener and put up with the smell instead. You do you! 


Why do I get constipated when on my period?

Not everyone experiences period poo as diarrhoea. Some people are #blessed with hormonal changes that cause equally annoying and uncomfortable constipation instead. 

Constipation during your period can be especially common for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. If this is you, drink plenty of water to keep things moving and use an over-the-counter stool softener if needed (but check with your doctor first). 

How do I tell if it’s a period cramp or a ‘need to poo’ cramp?

The truth is, often, you can’t. Both can cause abdominal pain or a feeling of pressure in your belly, lower back or butt. If you’re unsure, hit the bathroom pronto – just in case! If you suffer from severe cramps, taking an anti-inflammatory painkiller during your period might help, but check with your doctor first. 

Do I need to change my tampon every time I poo?

First, we recommend swapping tampons for a pair of Modibodi period-proof underwear, so you have one less thing to think about. They’re just like your regular undies, so you don’t have to worry about changing when you go to the loo. 

But, if you are using a tampon, we recommend removing it; otherwise, you’ll need to hold the string to the front to avoid getting poo on it. If your poo does find a way into your vagina, it can cause an infection. 

Is there anything I can do about period poo?

Let’s face it, you can’t control the change in hormones, but if period poo is getting in the way of life, you can try to eat as healthy as possible in the days leading up to (and during) your period to give your digestive system a fighting chance.

Load up on natural fibre, fruits, veggies and whole grains, keep up with gentle exercise, and if you need to, ask your doctor about taking an inflammatory containing ibuprofen to help with cramps and digestive discomfort.

When to see a doctor

It’s time to check in with your doctor if your abdominal pain is persistent, your cramps are severe, your periods are particularly heavy, or you have any bleeding from your bum when you poo. 

Want to learn more about your menstrual cycle and get period advice from Dr Jana Pittman? Head over to our blog. 

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