Printed From:

Cramps, fatigue, headaches, and bleeding can make any woman feel uncomfortable during their monthly period.

However, there is another symptom that can make menstruation even more inconvenient and unpleasant: diarrhea1.

Causes of Menstrual Diarrhea

Learning how to avoid having diarrhea is crucial if you experience gastrointestinal issues during your period. However, you also need to know the exact causes why you get them every month so that you can manage this condition better.


Elevated Prostaglandin Levels

An increase in the number of prostaglandins is the most common cause of menstrual diarrhea.2

Prostaglandins are hormone-like chemicals that aid different functions in the body, such as:3

✓  Forming platelet clusters and breaking down


✓  Contracting and relaxing muscles in the gastrointestinal tract


✓  Dilation and constriction of blood vessels


When there is a change in prostaglandin levels during your period, they cause your rectal muscles to contract more.4 As a result, you will move your bowels more often and experience diarrhea.

Prostaglandins also lower the absorption and increase electrolyte secretions5, both of which can lead to diarrhea.


Hormonal Changes

During your period, your progesterone and estrogen levels also change6.

The receptor cells in your gastrointestinal tract sense and react to this change, which can cause diarrhea during your menstrual cycle.




Managing Diarrhea During Your Period

Here are six tips for managing menstrual diarrhea:

1. Add more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids to your diet.

Prostaglandins are produced from omega-3 fatty acids.7 By eating more foods rich in this nutrient, your body can maintain a healthy level, which will help you avoid diarrhea during your period.

Examples of foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids are8:

✓  Salmon, sardines, and other fatty fish


✓  Leafy vegetables


✓  Flaxseeds


✓  Walnuts


At the same time, reduce your consumption of processed foods to lessen the symptoms.9

Causes of Menstrual Diarrheas
 

2. Increase your fiber intake.

Before and during your period, eat more:10

✓  Fruits and vegetables


✓  Legumes


✓  Nuts


✓  Whole grains


Fiber helps stop diarrhea by bulking up the stool.11

managing menstrual diarrhea
 

3. Avoid foods that aggravate diarrhea.

Some foods can make your diarrhea worse12. These include:

✓  Caffeinated beverages


✓  Fried and fatty foods


✓  Spicy foods


✓  Dairy products


✓  Sugary foods


Stay away from them to lessen the symptoms of your period diarrhea.

avoid diarrhea during your period
 

4. Boost your probiotic intake.

Probiotics help reduce diarrhea symptoms13. These microorganisms improve and maintain the healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, which can lower your possibility of having recurring diarrhea during your monthly period.

Examples of probiotic-rich foods to include in your diet are:14

✓  Yogurt


✓  Sauerkraut


✓  Kimchi


✓  Kefir


✓  Miso


Taking a probiotic supplement also ensures you get the benefits these probiotic-rich foods provide.15

During your period, consider taking a probiotic medicine for diarrhea to ease your symptoms.

diarrhea during period
 

5. Eat more foods that contain potassium.

Diarrhea causes the body to lose potassium16, which can make you feel weak. To avoid experiencing another uncomfortable symptom, eat more foods that contain this nutrient.

Foods rich in potassium include:17

✓  Bananas


✓  Avocado


✓  Tomatoes


✓  Broccoli


✓  Spinach


Chicken and salmon are also excellent sources of potassium.

However, avoid eating fried and fatty proteins and vegetables. Opt only for boiled items.

different types of diarrhea
 

6. Stay hydrated.

Drink plenty of water to replenish the fluids you lose from frequent bowel movements, which can cause dehydration.18

You will know if you are drinking enough fluids if your urine is pale yellow.19

You can supplement water with these additional fluids:20

✓  Electrolyte beverages


✓  Diluted juice


✓  Clear broth


✓  Herbal or weak tea


probiotic medicine for diarrhea
 

Premenstrual Diarrhea

Some women also suffer from diarrhea even before they get their period.21 If you also experience this, you can ease the symptoms by following the tips above and these additional ones:

✓  Avoid or reduce your caffeine intake22


✓  Have a balanced diet23


✓  Reduce your intake of sugar, salt, and fried or fatty foods24


Also, find ways to manage stress. Too much anxiety can make menstrual symptoms, including diarrhea25, cramping, and headaches worse.

If you want to avoid suffering from diarrhea before and during your monthly period or, at the very least, minimize the symptoms, follow these tips.

And if you notice your symptoms getting worse, consult a doctor immediately.

Learn more about probiotics and how they help treat different types of diarrhea on our Probiotics page.



References:

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Gastrointestinal symptoms before and during menses in healthy women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3901893/. Last visited 11th February 2021
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Gastrointestinal symptoms before and during menses in healthy women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3901893/. Last visited 11th February 2021
  3. Healthline. Everything You Want to Know About Prostaglandins. https://www.healthline.com/health/prostaglandins. Last visited 11th February 2021
  4. Healthline. How can your period affect bowel movements? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327009. Last visited 11th February 2021
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information, PubMed. Prostaglandins and gastrointestinal function. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/d/diarrhea.html. Last visited 11th February 2021
  6. MSD Manual Consumer Version. Menstrual Cycle. https://www.msdmanuals.com/home/women-s-health-issues/biology-of-the-female-reproductive-system/menstrual-cycle. Last visited 11th February 2021
  7. IntechOpen Limited. Beneficial Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Immune and Reproductive Endometrial Function. https://www.intechopen.com/books/apolipoproteins-triglycerides-and-cholesterol/beneficial-effect-of-omega-3-fatty-acids-on-immune-and-reproductive-endometrial-function. Last visited 11th February 2021
  8. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/omega-3-fats//a>. Last visited 11th February 2021
  9. National Center for Biotechnology Information, PubMed. Association Between Ultra-Processed Food Consumption and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: Results From the French NutriNet-Santé Cohort. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29904158/. Last visited 11th February 2021
  10. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Fiber. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/. Last visited 11th February 2021
  11. WebMD. Fiber and Digestion Problems. https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/fiber . Last visited 11th February 2021
  12. Harvard Health Publishing – Harvard Medical School. Is something in your diet causing diarrhea? https://www.health.harvard.edu/digestive-health/is-something-in-your-diet-causing-diarrhea. Last visited 11th February 2021
  13. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Can probiotics help against diarrhea? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK373095/. Last visited 11th February 2021
  14. Harvard Health Publishing. How to get more probiotics. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-get-more-probiotics. Last visited 11th February 2021
  15. Verywell Health. The Best Probiotic Supplements for IBS. https://www.verywellhealth.com/before-you-take-probiotics-for-ibs-1944991.
  16. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Hypokalemia: a clinical update https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5881435/. Last visited 11th February 2021.
  17. visited 11th February 2021
  18. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Potassium. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/potassium/. Last visited 12th February 2021
  19. World Health Organization. Diarrhoeal disease. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diarrhoeal-disease. Last visited 12th February 2021
  20. Medical News Today – Healthline Media. Why is my urine bright yellow? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313779. Last visited 12th February 2021
  21. GI Society – Canadian Society of Intestinal Research. Diarrhea and Diet. https://badgut.org/information-centre/health-nutrition/diarrhea-and-diet/. Last visited 12th February 2021
  22. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Gastrointestinal symptoms before and during menses in healthy women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3901893/. Last visited 11th February 2021
  23. Harvard Health Publishing – Harvard Medical School. Is something in your diet causing diarrhea? https://www.health.harvard.edu/digestive-health/is-something-in-your-diet-causing-diarrhea. Last visited 11th February 2021
  24. Nutritionist Resource. Diarrhoea. https://www.nutritionist-resource.org.uk/articles/diarrhoea.html#dietanddiarrhoea. Last visited 12th February 2021
  25. Harvard Health Publishing – Harvard Medical School. Is something in your diet causing diarrhea? https://www.health.harvard.edu/digestive-health/is-something-in-your-diet-causing-diarrhea. Last visited 11th February 2021
  26. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Gastrointestinal symptoms before and during menses in healthy women. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3901893/. Last visited 11th February 2021