Let's Talk About Period Poop

period poop

Despite rumors circulating in middle school locker rooms, we confirmed that women do indeed poop. But there’s a particularly problematic type of bowel movement that women often deal with for five or so days every month.

Yeah, we’re talking period poop.

“Taking a dump on your period is legit one of the most uncomfortable and almost unbearable feelings ever,” writes one woman in r/TwoX Chromosomes.

It turns out drastic changes in your pooping patterns at this time of the month are just as common as all the other period-related problems that get discussed more freely, like cramping, bloating, and food cravings.

We’ve wiped billions of butts over the years (many of them women’s butts), so we felt it was only right to give dudettes the scoop on why period poops are different, how to handle them, and how to clean up without causing any collateral damage down there.

Why Are Period Poops Different?

If you notice weird changes in your pooping patterns on your period, you’re not alone. One study found that 73% of women dealt with period-related gastrointestinal symptoms. Let’s take a look at 4 factors that affect your bowel movements.

1. Increased Muscle Contractions

Just before menstruation, your body releases prostaglandins: hormones that stimulate muscle contractions in the uterus. These contractions help the body to shed the uterus lining—but they also stimulate muscle contractions in the intestines and bowels, causing more frequent poops.

Prostaglandins can also affect how your body absorbs water, making your stool watery and increasing the risk of diarrhea.

2. Increased Progesterone Levels

Progesterone is another hormone that ramps up before your menstrual period. For some women, this causes constipation. For others, it causes diarrhea. It’s really the luck of the draw.

If you deal with chronic bowel issues or an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, progesterone-associated changes during your period may worsen those symptoms.

3. Dietary Changes

Progesterone is notorious for causing cravings, specifically for foods that are loaded with fat or sugar, like ice cream or chocolate. These aren’t the easiest foods for your body to digest, and eating more of them can shake up the consistency, regularity, or smell of your poop.

4. Mood Swings

The mood swings you experience during your period—especially stress and anxiety—can easily impact your bowel movements. For some people, stress sends them running to the nearest toilet to unload. Others, however, stay plugged up if they’re feeling down in the dumps.

Why Does Period Poop Smell Worse Than Normal Poop?

The most common culprit of foul-smelling period poop is your diet. Turn the clock back a few days to premenstrual syndrome (PMS). What were you eating? For many women, the increase in progesterone also does a doozy on food cravings. If you were going for junkier options than you do the rest of the month or just eating more overall, it might make your poop smell worse.

The good news is that once the cravings subside, your usual healthful diet should set things right in the scent department.

What About Period Constipation?

The high levels of progesterone your body produces before your period can slow down the digestive system, creating the perfect storm for constipation.

Staying hydrated, eating fiber-rich foods, and adding fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi to your diet (particularly between ovulation and the moment your period starts) can help.

If you’re really desperate to kickstart a bowel movement, try an over-the-counter laxative or stool softener.

How to Handle Period Poops

If there was a cure for period poop problems, we’d be all over it. But for now, you’ll have to settle for these tips to tame your tummy.

  1. Increase Your Fiber Intake: The fiber in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains help regulate your digestive system and ensure your poop doesn’t get too hard or too soft.
  2. Try a Stool Softener: If you’re firing blanks on the toilet, take an over-the-counter stool softener to get things moving
  3. Get Some Light Exercise: You don’t need to run a marathon or start powerlifting, but some light movement like walking can help with bloating and keep your bowels moving.
  4. Take Ibuprofen: In addition to alleviating pain from cramping, ibuprofen also inhibits prostaglandin—the hormone that triggers muscle contractions in your gut.

Does Birth Control Affect Period Poop?

It’s definitely possible for birth control to affect your period pooping patterns. Hormonal birth control limits how much prostaglandin your body produces, potentially limiting menstrual cramps and any excessive period pooping.

So if you’re on the pill, and you’re feeling smug about your unflappable digestive system, well, it might just be one of the better side effects of your contraceptive.

When to Worry About Period Poops

In all likelihood, bowel movement weirdness is just that—kind of weird at this time of the month. However, if you’re dealing with chronic diarrhea every time your period rolls around, you may want to check in with a medical professional about it.

Period poop can also be particularly rough for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), so if that’s you and the cramping and diarrhea feel out of control every time you menstruate, don’t hesitate to bring it up with your doctor.

Also, just because it’s referred to as “period poop,” this does not mean it should be accompanied by blood. If you notice blood when wiping after a bowel movement (unrelated to changing a tampon), don’t worry—it could just be hemorrhoids. But it’s still worth seeking out medical advice just to be sure.

The same goes for excessive pain. When abdominal discomfort doesn’t depart along with your actual period, check in with your doctor to see if it may indicate an issue like endometriosis.

Pamper Your Privates With DUDE Wipes

If you find yourself making more trips to the toilet during that time of the month, dry paper is the last thing you need if you want to stay fresh…down there. That’s where DUDE Wipes comes in. Infused with naturally soothing aloe vera and vitamin E, they're gentle on your sensitive sides and will leave you feeling refreshed and ready for whatever the day brings.

Don’t believe women can use DUDE Wipes? Just ask Kelly Ripa.

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