Mood swings, acne flares, muscle aches, and abdominal cramps are all well-known symptoms of menstruation, but it’s also quite common to have sluggish digestion.
In fact, roughly 73% of women experience digestive symptoms around their period.
Why is that?
Menstruation, or a period, is a time to clear out old tissues (the endometrial lining) and reset the uterus for future egg fertilization. This reset happens roughly every month when fertilization does not occur.
As a result of this, hormone levels like estrogen and progesterone will drop. Progesterone is an anti-inflammatory hormone, so as these levels decline, inflammation in the uterus will rise, and other pro-inflammatory messengers known as prostaglandins will begin to increase.
Prostaglandins then alert white blood cells that it’s time to shed the endometrial lining, and the period begins. However, these prostaglandins can also create inflammation in nearby intestinal tissues, which can result in a leaky gut before every period.
This combination of increased prostaglandins combined with a rapid decrease in estrogen and progesterone is believed to be responsible for gastrointestinal disturbances before and during menstruation.
And if someone has IBS, or other bowel disorders, then these digestive shifts around menstruation may be even more pronounced.
If digestive symptoms seem to intensify before and/or during a period, it may be possible to reduce the discomfort by focusing on low-intensity exercise, adequate fiber consumption, proper hydration, and key gut health therapeutics, like IgG immunoglobulins and digestive enzymes.