Some people experience various symptoms every month before their period, such as stomach cramps, muscle pain, and mood changes. Constipation before your period is another common symptom of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Causes of premenstrual constipation
Progesterone is often the cause of constipation before your period. This hormone's levels increase before menstruation, and it slows down the digestive system.
After ovulation, progesterone (which is a natural muscle relaxant) significantly increases, leading to constipation by delaying the movement of food through the bowels.
PMS constipation typically improves once menstruation begins, due to the rapid drop in progesterone levels during the period. Some people may experience temporary diarrhea at this time, as the hormone that previously slowed down the digestive system is suddenly absent.
Another factor that can contribute to PMS diarrhea is a sudden increase in prostaglandins, a hormone-like substance produced by endometrial cells. If present in large amounts, prostaglandins may enter the muscles lining the bowels and cause the intestines to contract and move the bowels very quickly.
How to treat constipation before your period
Increasing fiber intake is generally an effective treatment for constipation, whether or not it occurs during your period. Eating meals that include whole wheat bread, high-fiber cereals, and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables may be helpful. Avoiding fatty, sugary foods and drinking plenty of fluids can also help maintain regularity.
Exercise and other forms of physical activity may also help prevent constipation. Movement improves blood and oxygen circulation, which keeps the bowels active. Regular exercise can not only alleviate constipation before your period, but it may also help with other premenstrual symptoms.
It may be helpful to track changes in bowel movements, such as constipation, diarrhea, and bloating, using the Flo app. This can help you identify any correlations between these conditions and different stages of the menstrual cycle.
If the above strategies do not relieve PMS constipation and you are still experiencing irregular bowel movements, seek medical attention. A healthcare provider can investigate potential digestive disorders.