Period poo is a topic unlikely to receive a lot of conversational air-time among your group of pals. But, unless you’ve been turning a blind eye, you have to admit you’re familiar with the changes of consistency, frequency and odour of your poo during that time of the month.

Despite no one mentioning it in the group chat, you’re not the only woman to experience changes in your bowel movements when your period arrives.

So, we’re knocking you out a solid and breaking down the faecal walls to share what we know about period poo and why your bowel movements are likely to be different during that stage of your cycle.

So, what is period poo?

Period poo is the collective term given to the series of changed bowel movements that occur during the menstrual phase of your cycle. They’re the faecal changes considered beyond your normal. Changes in bowel movements can vary from woman to woman, however the most common types are diarrhoea, constipation, loose stools, and painful pooping.

What causes loose stools and diarrhoea when you have your period?

The culprit here is a chemical compound called prostaglandins. Right before your period begins, the uterine cells start to produce prostaglandin. This production causes a stimulation of the smooth muscles in your uterus to help contract and shed the uterine lining (aka period blood). When your body overproduces prostaglandins, they overflow into your bloodstream, causing a similar effect on other smooth muscles. Body part in point; your bowels. The more prostaglandins in your bowels = the more poo in your toilet bowel. Due to the cramping, your stools will be loose and diarrhoea-like.

What causes period constipation?

If you’re one of many women who experience period constipation, once again in life you can blame your hormones. You see, in the week leading up to your period, progesterone levels peak to sustain a possible pregnancy. If an egg isn’t planted during that time, progesterone levels drop rapidly. This spike in progesterone is responsible for slowing down digestion and stool movement through your bowels.

Can you prevent period diarrhoea and constipation?

Menstrual poo issues cannot be prevented unless you’re on a specific form of hormonal contraception. Oral contraceptives like the combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP) release a steady dose of oestrogen and progesterone over the course of your monthly cycle, which aids in reducing hormonal fluctuations that trigger period poo.

Why does period poo smell so bad?

You can point your finger at progesterone as the one to blame for smelly poo when you have your period. Progesterone can trigger an increase in non-typical food cravings that alter the fragrance of your stool when visiting the bathroom. Same deal for those wafty period farts, too. Avoiding the urge to indulge in processed and refined sugar foods when your have your period will help to avoid putrid smells in the loo.

Why does it hurt to poo when you have your period?

Reasons you may experience painful restroom sessions are:

  • Constipation, making it hard for your body to make a bowel movement
  • Period cramps, creating a double whammy of pain
  • Diarrhoea, with its side of cramps
  • Haemorrhoids, from spending too much time perched upon the porcelain

This blog is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your medical practitioner.