According to some studies, the biggest change directly related to IBS happens in the level of hormones present in women’s bodies. The more this amount changes at different points in their menstrual cycles, the more apparent the IBS symptoms become.
IBS and irregular periods are very closely linked. Women with IBS experience more severe and frequent symptoms such as bloating, cramping, backache, fatigue, insomnia, and food sensitivity when their menstrual periods are about to appear.
Some studies showed the link between certain gynaecological disorders associated with IBS, even though women with IBS are less likely to have other PMS symptoms such as mood swings. However, they are more likely to experience chronic pelvic pain and painful menses due to fluctuating levels of hormones in their bodies, especially during and after menopause.
IBS symptoms can change at different phases of the period cycle. During the cycle, sex hormone levels in a woman’s body drop to the lowest, which causes an increase in the severity of IBS symptoms.
During this period, women with IBS may experience IBS symptoms such as bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. When it comes to IBS and ovulation, these symptoms, especially constipation and bloating, can get worse.
For some women, IBS and period spotting are closely connected as they tend to feel increased IBS symptoms at the very beginning of their menses cycles and the first 1-2 days of bleeding. So, to address the question in the heading, it’s not that your period can make IBS worse – it’s the other way around. IBS can make women’s menstrual symptoms worse and more frequent.
To properly answer this question, we must first identify the hormones that are in charge of the menstrual cycle:
- Follicule-stimulating hormone
- Luteinizing hormone
Frequent fluctuations of these hormones can cause a change in the gastrointestinal function, especially in the case of women with IBS. These hormonal changes can cause the worsening of IBS symptoms for some women, but they can’t stop your period.
One study even showed that periods could help improve IBS symptoms. Many women with IBS make a mistake in thinking that they were experiencing problematic periods when, in fact, they were suffering from IBS. It’s absolutely vital to know how to tell the difference between IBS and painful periods so you can act accordingly.
Fluctuating hormones can have a great effect on your period and IBS symptoms. This fluctuation can cause an increase in various IBS symptoms, but it can’t stop your period. If you experience an IBS attack during your period, no need to panic – it’s only normal. It’s also comforting to know that you can calm IBS attacks in a few steps.
The change in period hormones can make IBS worse after a period, but it can also improve your symptoms. It varies from person to person, which is why it’s so important to educate yourself on how to deal with both IBS and menstrual symptoms. Can IBS cause heavy periods? Yes, it can.
There are bodily changes that occur before, during, and after your period, which also affect your bowels. The hormones in charge of your period stimulate muscle contractions in the bowels and intestines, causing more frequent bowel movements than usual.
It directly reduces the body’s ability to absorb water, leading to an increased risk of diarrhea. That’s why many women report their period cramps feeling like they had to poop. However, telling the difference between intestinal and stomach cramps and uterus cramps is quite difficult. Both are painful and quite uncomfortable.
There are also some dietary changes such as increased cravings for foods, feelings of hunger, and the need to eat more. This sudden dietary change can affect your bowels and cause a difference in the smell, regularity, and consistency of your stool before, during, and after your menstruation.
Aside from menstrual changes affecting your IBS symptoms, digestive problems can also make your symptoms worse. We’ve already seen how IBS affects premenstrual and menstrual symptoms. On the other hand, we have digestive issues related to depression, mood swings, tiredness, and abdominal discomfort.
Digestive motility and hormonal changes are closely linked together. Women with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, or any other similar digestive problem are more likely to experience gastrointestinal problems during their monthly menses.
Since IBS and digestive problems are directly connected, it’s safe to say that digestive issues do affect your period and can make your menstruation worse. The increase of menstrual hormone levels during the menses causes and stimulates muscle contractions.
That’s why it’s essential to manage your IBS symptoms during menstruation. Consider taking oral contraceptives to block high premenstrual levels of hormones. Medications like SSRIs can also help provide relief from menstrual and digestive problems.
You can also find relief from gastrointestinal and menstrual symptoms by taking proper supplementation to block certain hormones and regulate both your period and digestion.
There are many questions about IBS, PMS, and how to manage both that need answering. Everything starts with the proper diagnosis of your symptoms. To find more information about IBS and periods and how to deal with both, feel free to visit our website.
We are your very own nutritionist in Manchester, and we can provide useful advice that will allow you to take back control of your gut health. Say goodbye to cramping and bloating for good. Visit our website today.
Author: Martin Cohen
DipCNM mBANT mCNHC
I am a member of the professional body BANT (British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy) and the CNHC. In addition, I have also reached the occupational standards of the NTC (Nutritional Therapy Council), which has strict codes of practise and ethics.
In such a developing and exciting field I remain focused on keeping up with emerging research. My continued growth and development as a practitioner comes through peer-reviewed research and regularly attending accredited seminars and conferences around the country.