Diarrhea is quite common phenomenon for almost every one of us which is often caused by infection. Diarrhea can occur due to other reasons also. In this article you will get to know why diarrhea occurs in women during monthly periods. Not every woman with menstruation would get diarrhea but some of them can have loose stools before the onset of periods. Women are likely to experience abdominal cramps and hormonal disturbance during menstrual cycle.
What Is Menstrual Cycle ?
Monthly period cycle differs from one woman to another. It is the time estrogen hormone is at its peak in her body. Female reproductive system makes arrangement each month for conception of baby by producing an egg which in turn fuses with the men’s sperm to form a zygote. For accommodating the fertilized egg, the uterus makes a thick lining which gets discharged along with waste blood from the vagina.
Causes Of Menstrual Diarrhea :
Due to plenty of hormonal changes occurring in the body of a woman, changes can occur in the intestine also. Many women would have abdominal cramps on the first day of her periods which gradually wanes on day 2 or 3. It is not clear why diarrhea occurs during monthly periods but it can be due to different mechanisms that occur in the body.
1. Prostaglandins – Uterus contracts and relaxes to shed out the extra mucus lining which is expelled through vagina. Prostaglandins are necessary chemical that triggers the contraction of uterus. During this process, other internal organs in the intestine can get affected. Other muscles get stimulated contracting the walls of the intestine causing diarrhea. The muscles of the abdomen contract and relax systematically to transport the food particles facilitating digestion and absorption process. Peristalsis is the condition of bowel spasms that helps in movement of waste particles. Bowel movement can occur rapidly under the influence of prostaglandins which can also cause diarrhea.
2. Abdominal Cramps – As said early, uterus contraction can cause mild to moderate pain in the lower right abdomen during the onset of monthly periods. For some women it can interfere with daily activities causing discomfort and fatigue. And the nervous system can contribute to added pain during such time. Tiny muscles present in the muscle wall can get affected causing abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
3. PMS – Premenstrual syndrome is common among many women and is the term that describes several signs associated with menstrual periods. For some women PMS can be mild and for others it can be bothersome. Before the onset of period, women can experience fatigue, craving for certain foods, increased breast weight and mood swings. Without any obvious reason they can become angry and depressed. According to Mayo Clinic report, 3 out of every 4 women have some kind of PMS which occurs between the time of ovulation and monthly period. It is quite common for many women to have indigestion problems including gas, flatulence and heartburn and diarrhea. Premenstrual syndrome can cause menstrual diarrhea which resolves on its own after a day or two.
4. Psychological Factors – Emotional state of a woman can strongly alter during monthly periods due to the influence of hormones. The same factor can cause change in bowel movement triggering speedy transfer of contents from small intestine to large intestine. In such a situation, menstrual diarrhea can occur due to increased stress and emotion.
5. Increase Intake Of Foods – Women are likely to eat more during monthly cycle due to food cravings. This can also cause menstrual diarrhea. Sudden increase in diet and overeating can affect the normal digestion process triggering speedy bowel movements. Further due to discomfort and fatigue feeling during menstruation, women are likely to drink more coffee/tea and other stimulants which can contribute for diarrhea.
6. Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Any disruption or blockage in bowel movement can cause IBS. It is not clear what causes IBS in some and not in others. Again the symptoms of IBS get worsened during menstruation. Women who already have IBS or Crohn’s disease or acid reflux problem can have diarrhea during monthly periods certainly. For some women constipation can occur during periods.
Generally there is no need to treat diarrhea that occurs along with menstrual periods since it settles on its own. This is not the case of infectious diarrhea but is caused by hormonal imbalance and change in metabolic activities. Diarrhea during monthly period is acute and short lived.
Menstrual Diarrhea Home Remedies :
Diarrhea in any time can cause excess loss of fluids and ions. Dehydration can occur if you are losing too much of essential ions and electrolytes from the body. Hence it is essential to stay hydrated if you have loose stools and vomiting.
- Women need to drink plenty of water to replace the lost fluids. It is good to take lukewarm water mixed with little sugar and salt during menstrual diarrhea.
- Avoid drinking more coffee/tea and other beverages since it may worsen the problem.
- Avoid taking alcohol during menstruation since your body is weak and vulnerable during that time.
- Take complete rest if you are not feeling well. Avoid doing vigorous physical activity if you have periods and stay away from gym schedule if you are tired and uncomfortable.
- Avoid eating spicy and oily foods during menstrual periods since it may worsen the diarrhea symptoms. Eat bland foods and eat in regular intervals. You can take plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- You can take OTC drugs like loperamide during menstruation if you are planning to go out. But remember to drink plenty of fluids and take extra fiber supplements to manage loose stools.
- Probiotics like yogurt can be taken during menstrual diarrhea since it helps in relieving the symptoms quickly.
- To reduce abdominal cramps you can use hot pads or warm water bottle.