The uterus is a magical, mystical place that also just so happens to be very unforgiving sometimes. Aside from allowing womankind to reenact The Shining on a monthly basis, it also affects many other parts of our body in a not-so-pleasant fashion.
Perfect example: our digestive system.
On top of the red river flowing between our legs, many women also have to deal with frequent pooping. Because running to the ladies’ room for one reason just isn’t enough. But, why? Why does this happen to us?! What did we do to deserve this torture?!?! *takes deep breath*
For a Gross Science video, host Anna Rothschild helped us uncover this menses mystery.
The chemical culprits: progesterone and prostaglandins.
You probably learned about progesterone (or “the pregnancy hormone”) in Biology class. It’s a hormone that’s produced by the ovaries. Right before your period begins, your progesterone levels will gradually rise and peak. Then, they drastically drop. Interestingly enough, progesterone causes an undesirable side effect: constipation – so when your levels drop, this can help to loosen all the waste that’s in your bowels.
You may not be as familiar with prostaglandins, but we have a feeling that you’re not going to be their #1 fan when you find out what they do… Prostaglandins cause your uterus to contract, so your body can successfully push out the uterine lining that’s being shed on the inside. Some of these compounds go rogue and make their way over to your digestive system, causing you to also feel gassy and to make recurring trips to the bathroom (for another reason).
Together, progesterone and prostaglandins are the source of period pooping. But, is there anything we can do to combat this issue?
According to ob-gyn Jennifer Gunter, ibuprofen inhibits the release of prostaglandins, helping to lessen the amount that sets up shop in your digestive tract. She recommends that we take the ibuprofen 24 hours before our period starts because “[o]therwise, you’re playing catch-up and won’t get the same preventative effect.”
Also, you should probably avoid foods that cause tummy troubles and keep your diet as clean as possible.
Here’s to keeping menstruation manageable!