Gut health
Lifestyle

How your cycle affects your digestion

If you notice changes in your digestion around your cycle, you're not alone! Up to 70% of women say that they bloat before and during their periods.

What’s happening?

The menstrual cycle can have a real impact on your gut, especially if you struggle with IBS or similar gut troubles. During your period, it's common to experience a worsening of symptoms like an upset stomach, diarrhea, bloating and abdominal pain. Some people even notice problems like constipation and bloating as a result of ovulation.

Changing hormones are a likely culprit, with fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone causing gas, more regular bathroom trips and water retention. During PMS, your body releases ‘prostaglandins’, which are hormones that help your body shed lining from the uterus during your period.

It’s thought that these hormones stimulate muscle contractions in the intestines and bowels, as well as in your uterus. This causes more frequent bowel movements (often known as ‘period poop’).

Learn more about the effects each cycle phase has on your body.

How to feel better

Here are our top tips to minimize discomfort:

  • Do light, regular workouts like yoga to aid digestion and reduce bloating
  • Avoid any foods that normally irritate your gut, such as dairy products or spicy foods
  • Increase your water intake and decrease your alcohol consumption to avoid dehydration
  • Practice mindfulness to relieve stress which can worsen bloating

Pro tip: Cycle tracking can help you to identify patterns of discomfort related to your cycle. Your logs can be a valuable point of reference for doctors appointments, or simply for you to plan your schedule and diet around any flare-ups.

Read next: 4 supplements for reduced PMS and better periods.