How To Beat It
By Sarah Schneider
“PMS” and “Constipation” – neither is a pleasant topic to discuss, but I've always been curious why, even though I don’t get constipated very often, I seem to have the problem pretty regularly when “Aunt Flo” comes to visit.
I always chalked it up to the theory that my body was expelling more fluid than at other times of the month, and that I should just drink more.
Well, I decided to research the topic, and it’s more complicated than I thought. Below I share some things I discovered.
Is it normal, a common problem?
Yes, even though there are 150 different PMS symptoms, PMS constipation is one that is mentioned quite often.
What causes it?
A lot of women become constipated at the start of PMS. There are a couple of reasons for this.
- The body’s estrogen level drops. Estrogen helps muscles move more smoothly, and when there’s not enough estrogen, the digestive system slows down, causing constipation.
- At the same time, the body’s progesterone levels increase.
Progesterone acts as a muscle relaxant that weakens gut contractions, slowing down gastric emptying and again, causing constipation.
Side note: Progesterone levels drop when the
menstrual flow starts, which could explain why
many woman experience diarrhea at this time.
- Another contributing factor is that during PMS, the lining of the uterus expands.
Since the uterus is right underneath the intestinal tract, this expansion can put extra pressure on surrounding organs, also aggravating PMS constipation.
- The body’s neurotransmitter levels and calcium levels can also affect the functionality of the intestine and in turn, how well the bowels are working.
How Can I Prevent / Get Rid Of It?
Get plenty of fiber
We've all heard that fiber helps us be more regular. Complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables and whole grains also have lots of fiber. As an added plus, they help prevent sugar cravings, mood swings and anxiety.
However, if you don’t normally have much fiber in your diet, be careful not to over do it, since this can cause extra bloating. I already feel bloated enough when I’m PMSing!
- Drink more water and prevent dehydration that contributes to PMS constipation.
- Eat smaller meals, more regularly.
I know this is something we've all heard as a general health suggestion, but it will actually help prevent constipation because you’ll be putting less pressure on your bowels.
- Light exercise and gentle abdominal massaging can also help.
- Lowering stress levels helps the digestive system function more regularly. It is therefore worthwhile to take time to do things that help you relax.
Supplements and Herbs
Below are some doctor recommended supplements that improve metabolic function and hormone metabolism.
- A Magnesium supplement – 400 to 600 mg/day
- Calcium citrate – 600 mg/day
- Vitamin B6 – 50 to 100 mg/day
- Folate - 800 mcg
- Vitamin B12 - 1,000 mcg
- Evening primrose oil – two 500 mg capsules twice/day
- EPA/DHA (omega 3 fats) – 1,000 mg once or twice/day
- Taurine – 500 mg/day to help liver detoxification
- A good natural multivitamin and mineral (all the nutrients work together)
Magnesium may help constipation
You may have heard that magnesium helps your body absorb calcium. As I mentioned earlier, your body’s calcium level can affect how well your bowels are working.
A daily dose of a magnesium supplement tends to soften the stool and encourage bowel movements.
One such product, Ionic Sea Minerals, contains 422 mg. of magnesium per teaspoon, which has numerous health benefits. It also contains valuable trace minerals.
Magnesium may help to do the following:
- As a muscle relaxant, it can help relieve cramping as well as menstrual headaches.
- It also acts as a natural tranquilizer, and can treat symptoms related to anxiety, tension, irritability, depression and confusion.
- It may help to treat and prevent constipation
- It also reduces water retention, bloating and breast tenderness.
Ground flax seeds
As for herbs, try adding a couple tablespoons of ground flax seeds to your daily diet. For example, you could mix it with your shake or sprinkle it on your salad.
It’s a good source of fiber and will help balance out your hormones.
I hope this article on PMS constipation has been helpful for you and that it helps make your time of the month more comfortable.
(Return from PMS Constipation to Causes of Constipation)
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