Talking about periods is slowly becoming less awkward, and we’re so here for it. We want to live in a world where adverts for period panties are the norm, where you can openly discuss how stressful it is to change a Mooncup in a public toilet, and where no one ever uses the euphemism ‘Aunt Flo’ ever again. But one area remains relatively taboo: period poop.
Although we’re all about normalising periods, we can all agree that blood is kinda gross. So the combination of blood and poop, well, that’s hardly something you want to cover over brunch with the girls. But the period runs is a real thing and today we’re going to unpack it in all its TMI glory.
If you have noticed that you need to go to the bathroom way more when you’re on your period (and not just to change your tampon), you’re not alone. It can feel like a cruel joke to be dealing with blood, cramps, bloating, plus a mild case of diarrhoea. It is because life is cruel, but there is also a scientific explanation for the hot mess going on down there for three to five days a month. The webseries Gross Science tackled some surprising questions about periods (like, WTF period blood is made of) and we were particularly excited to learn the reason for the period poop phenomenon.
The science of why you poop more while you’re on your period
The first culprit in the case of the period poop is a chemical called prostaglandin. These guys are the ones who tell your uterus to cramp and contract to expel the uterine lining – so naturally, we hate them. Their cramp-inducing effects can spread beyond your uterus to your digestive system, leaving you gassy and needing to trot to the toilet.
Then we have progesterone, a hormone that is produced by your ovaries. Your progesterone levels peak just before your period and drop significantly during. This matters because the hormone has a constipating effect, so when levels of progesterone dip during your period everything gets, shall we say, ‘looser’.
So now that you know why you get the runs when you’re on your period, you probably feel way better, right? JK, it still sucks. At least you know you’re normal though. If your symptoms are especially crippling, however, go chat to your gynae about it.
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