As menstruation approaches, it is not uncommon for women to experience digestive and intestinal problems and constipation, and then to have a strong resumption of transit during the menstrual period, sometimes resulting in diarrhea and gas. These digestive problems are caused by the action of two hormones: progesterone and prostaglandin. This is why digestive problems are also common during menopause.
What causes digestive and intestinal disorders during menopause?
Progesterone is a hormone produced by the ovaries during the menstrual cycle. Its level increases throughout the cycle to reach its maximum just before the arrival of the period. One of the effects of this increase in hormones can be constipation or a general discomfort called "intestinal stress". This is because progesterone alters the muscle contractions that move food through the intestine, causing constipation. Then, the progesterone level drops sharply at the beginning of the period, which makes the transit start again quickly since the muscular contractions resume.
Prostaglandin plays an important role in digestive and intestinal disorders around the time of menstruation because, unlike progesterone, prostaglandin has an effect on the contractions of theuterus which are intended to evacuate the uterine lining during menstruation, which is shed if there is no pregnancy. Although this has not yet been proven, the hypothesis is that the contraction signals from the uterus are also sent to the nearby digestive organs, particularly the intestines. They would thus need to evacuate in the same way as the uterus, which could explain diarrhea, but also bloating and menstrual cramps.
In addition, as menstruation approaches, the levels of other hormones increase. This is the case for serotonin and oxytocin, which would lead to greater mobility in the intestines and therefore to diarrhea.
The many hormonal changes therefore modify the digestion rhythms, which leads to a greater accumulation of gas during the menstrual period. Finally, hormonal fluctuations affect the bacteria present in the intestines and change their composition with each menstrual cycle. This affects bacterial fermentation, resulting in more odorous gas.
How can I avoid digestive problems during my period?
A simple tip to avoid digestive problems during your period is to chew your food well and drink plenty of water.
Certain foods, such as dairy products or coffee, are particularly irritating during your period. For people who regularly have gastrointestinal problems, they can cause intestinal problems. Avoiding these foods around or during your period can help reduce the nuisance.
Limiting stress, practicing a regular sport activity as well as favouring fibre and a light diet would also allow to reduce digestive problems, especially in case of constipation. If you suffer from diarrhea, choose starchy foods instead. If you have flatulence, avoid carbonated beverages and foods such as cabbage or beans.
You can also take probiotics as a supplement to your diet to improve your intestinal flora at this time or eat fermented foods to help produce good bacteria.
As for natural solutions, oregano essential oil in capsules, thyme tea or sage infusions to reduce stomach pain and improve digestion work very well.
Finally, you can keep a food diary during your cycle to help you identify your problems and adapt your consumption during your period.
If these disorders are disabling in everyday life or are accompanied by other symptoms, we advise you to consult a doctor. If they appear several years after your first period, this could be a sign of endometriosis.
To make the most of your period, you can always wear our menstrual panties!