By Dr. Jeeno Jayan, MBBS
When going through PMS (premenstrual syndrome), there are numerous things that happen in a woman's body, which may result in:
The one symptom that is not commonly experienced during PMS is constipation. Everyday Health writes that women, in fact, are more likely to have diarrhea, not constipation, during the first few days of their menstrual cycle.
However, it is also true that every woman's hormones are unique, and not everyone experiences the same symptoms. In this article, our attention is centered on those who experience constipation during PMS.
Various chemicals and hormones are carefully balanced by the body. It is this balance that is responsible for ovulation and then menstruation.
The hormone estrogen is what gets the egg ready for ovulation. This extra estrogen at the beginning of the menstrual cycle triggers the release of cortisol, and this can result in constipation.
However, recent research suggests that menstrual symptoms are caused primarily by the hormone progesterone, and that estrogen plays a secondary role.
Right after ovulation, progesterone increases, which safeguards the egg from being displaced. Progesterone then gradually diminishes until its level is low enough to cause menstruation.
Progesterone, together with estrogen, are what may produce symptoms of gas and bloating, along with constipation. These hormones slow down elimination of stool by relaxing the smooth muscles of the colon.
When menstruation begins, there is a release of prostaglandins into the body. These chemicals are essential in creating a contraction of the uterus, which causes its lining to be sloughed off.
It is the release of large amounts of prostaglandins that causes the cramping and pain that so many endure during menstruation.
In a study that looked at menstrual cycles and prostaglandins, it was found that women who experienced diarrhea had a higher level of prostaglandins.
Might this higher level actually be what causes the rumbling of the stomach and diarrhea that often accompanies a woman's period? Perhaps it is the prostaglandins that produce greater contractions of the colon, moving feces through more quickly.
In other research, those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) had a greater chance of having digestive problems during menstrual periods than women without IBS.
Of course, not everyone that has gastrointestinal problems during their periods has IBS.
If, however, you do have extreme digestive problems, or if you have bloody stools or a significant amount of pain, please tell your doctor.
Take a magnesium supplement
A magnesium supplement can prove effective in dealing with PMS constipation.
Magnesium draws water into the colon, which increases the moisture of stool. A moist stool is softer, more slippery and has the increased bulk that is needed to trigger peristalsis and move stool along.
Just 200 to 400 mg of magnesium may be enough to provide safe and effective relief without cramping.
Since most women don’t get enough magnesium in their diet, taking a daily magnesium supplement may result in numerous health benefits.
Increase dietary fiber
Including 25 to 35 grams in one's diet may prove quite helpful. Foods high in fiber include:
Limit your intake of the following
Stress can cause stool to move more slowly through the colon. Therefore, to avoid constipation, try some relaxation techniques. Even just talking with a friend may be helpful in reducing stress.
Get regular exercise
Did you know that exercise can help to reduce stress while helping one's digestive system? Exercise is a good idea both before and during your monthly period.
Keep track of gastrointestinal symptoms
To help in identifying the triggers that cause one to experience PMS constipation, you may find it helpful to take note of which of the above things seem to be contributing factors. Once you know which things tend to cause it, the next appropriate step is put together a plan of action.
Take Advil or Aleve
You may find that Aleve or Advil are helpful in reducing menstral symptoms, since these can effectively lower your level of prostaglandin.
NSAIDs should not be taken if you:
Constipation is a common symptom of PMS.
Women who tend to have higher levels of estrogen are more likely to experience the unpleasant symptoms of PMS constipation.
When you couple constipation and the pressure, cramping and other symptoms that come with pre-menstrual syndrome, it makes it even more important to effective deal with PMS constipation.
Taking a magnesium supplement is a simple way to prevent constipation. Many constipation and PMS symptoms are similar.
Getting rid of PMS constipation symptoms from your body may help to reduce the overall discomforts of menstruation.