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Constipation during periods: Why does it happen and how to deal with it

Many women experience digestive issues during periods. Here are some expert-recommended ways to tackle constipation during periods.
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Here's how to tackle constipation during periods. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Arushi Bidhuri Published: 15 Mar 2024, 18:15 pm IST
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Do you experience digestive problems such as constipation during periods? Sometimes, the ebb and flow of your hormones during periods can affect your digestive system, which can lead to problems such as constipation. As if mood swings and fatigue weren’t enough during periods, constipation just adds another layer of discomfort to an already challenging time. However, it is possible to navigate your menstrual cycle with more ease and comfort. If you have been looking for ways to combat constipation during periods, look no further! Here’s everything you need to know about it.

What leads to constipation during periods?

Your body goes through a lot of hormonal fluctuations during menstruation that can affect various systems including your digestive system. Progesterone, a hormone that supports menstruation and pregnancy, increases before periods to prepare the uterus for pregnancy, explains Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Padma Srivastava. Periods relax the muscles of the intestines, leading to slower movement of food and waste through the digestive tract. This sluggishness can contribute to constipation in some women during their periods.

Woman trying to get relief from constipation
Constipation during periods is a common concern. Image courtesy: Freepik

Changes in diet and hydration levels commonly occur before and during menstruation, which can also impact bowel movements. For example, increased cravings for comfort foods high in sugar and low in fibre may exacerbate constipation issues. Hormonal fluctuations can cause water retention in the body, potentially leading to bloating and abdominal discomfort that may contribute to irregular bowel movements. By being mindful of these factors and making small adjustments such as increasing fibre intake or staying hydrated, individuals may be able to alleviate or prevent constipation during this time of the month.

How to deal with constipation during your period?

Here are some expert-suggested ways to deal with constipation during periods:

1. Eat fibre-rich food

One effective remedy for dealing with constipation during your period is to increase your intake of high-fibre foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fibre helps to soften the stool and promote regular bowel movements, alleviating the discomfort of constipation, says the expert.

3. Eat more probiotic-rich foods

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support gut health and can help regulate digestion, reducing the likelihood of constipation during menstruation. A study in Pharmacological Research found that eating more probiotics can help improve digestion. You should include more probiotic-rich foods in your diet, including yogurt, kefir, pulses, kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, cheddar, mozzarella, and gouda cheese.

4. Stay physically active

When you exercise, it automatically reduces the time it takes food to move through the large intestine and limits the amount of water your body absorbs from the stool. Light physical activity like yoga or gentle exercise helps stimulate bowel motility and relieve bloating and abdominal discomfort associated with constipation during periods, explains the doctor. Exercising for 45 minutes can help alleviate pain caused by constipation during periods.

5. Relaxation techniques

Mindful relaxation techniques open up all your senses and relax your muscles, from head to toe. Practicing deep breathing and meditation can help manage stress levels that might be impacting your digestive health and leading to problems such as constipation during periods.

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6. Avoid triggers

Drinking caffeinated drinks, dairy products, junk foods, and highly processed foods can worsen constipation and trigger indigestion. Being mindful of what you are eating can help you avoid constipation, reduce discomfort during your menstrual cycle, and promote overall well-being.

Also Read: 5 foods to soften stool and relieve constipation

7. Drink herbal teas

Herbal teas such as chamomile or peppermint can also be soothing and help with digestion. You can sip on these throughout the day to help ease discomfort. According to the NIH National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), herbal teas contain natural laxative properties that help give you some relief.

8. Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of fluids every day can help you ease digestion. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day can aid in keeping things moving smoothly in your digestive system. It helps break down and process food, which helps prevent constipation during periods.

A woman drinking water
Hydration helps keep constipation at bay during periods. Image courtesy: Freepik

Other digestive issues to look out for during periods

Apart from bloating and constipation, menstrual periods can also exacerbate other digestive issues that you need to be mindful of. One common problem is acid reflux or heartburn, which may aggravate during menstruation due to hormonal fluctuations. Moreover, some women may experience diarrhea during their periods, a condition known as period-related diarrhea (PRD) due to hormonal changes.

However, if you notice persistent or severe digestive issues during your periods, it’s essential to consult with an expert for proper management.

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About the Author

Arushi Bidhuri is a journalist with 7 years of experience in writing, editing, and conceptualizing story ideas across different genres, including health and wellness, lifestyle, politics, beauty, fashion, and more. Arushi has a strong connection in the industry that helps her write concise and original stories as she believes in working towards writing pieces that can enlighten people. ...Read More

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