Here's Why Pooping During Your Period Is Absolutely The Worst
Getting your period is never fun, between all the bloating, cramps, and mood swings. And then there are the symptoms we really don’t like talking about, like why does it hurt to poop while you’re on your period? For some people, this particular menstrual side effect can be fairly miserable. If you’re one who dreads going to the bathroom during your period because it hurts to poop, here’s what’s causing the pain, and when it’s time to see a medical professional.
Why does it hurt to poop when you’re on your period?
Increased hormone levels
Most likely, your hormones are to blame.
"Prostaglandins released during menstrual cycles have been shown to increase nerve sensation, potentially also increasing sensitivity to pain and discomfort," gynecologist Dr. Jessica Shepherd, MD, MBA tells Romper. "Rectal pain can be common during menstrual cycles due to the increase in progesterone and estrogen levels. The uterus is in close proximity to the rectum, and during your period there are increased inflammatory changes that occur and can cause some ‘butt pain.’"
There are also a lot of nerves in the region surrounding your anus, rectum, and small intestine, and they often become inflamed simultaneously, according to the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
If you suffer from extreme pain with bowel movements during your cycle, it's possible that the it hurts to poop on your period because of scar tissue around your rectum and lower intestine that has formed due to endometriosis, according to The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The scar tissue that builds from the disease can obstruct the narrow passageways or swell with the fluctuation of hormones during your period.
Shepherd agrees that your pain while pooping may be cause of concern, telling Romper, "If you’re experiencing new or excruciating rectal pain or discomfort during your period, it’s important to consult with a trusted medical professional, in case it is a symptom of something potentially more serious like endometriosis or internal hemorrhoids."
That's certainly the case for me. I was diagnosed with endometriosis in my early 20s, and every month I have terrible constipation followed by bouts of terrible diarrhea. When I finally do have to go to the bathroom, it feels like someone is twisting my insides and prodding me in the butt with a fire-hot poker. It has been so bad that I have had to bite down on a washcloth so that my children don't hear me screaming. Mine is actually so extreme that I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis secondary to endometriosis.
But if you don't have endometriosis, you really can just chalk it up to good ol' hormones and their affect on constipation. Erin Graham CNM, the Lead Midwife at Baby+Co. in Charlotte, North Carolina, tells Romper, "One of the things that happens pre-period, during PMS, is that you have a rise in progesterone levels, which can lead to constipation. When your period starts, you have a sudden drop in hormones, and your bowels can overcorrect. Pain could be constipation related." Basically, you're pushing too hard, and too long, and it's uncomfortable.
Also, Graham says that it could be due to the shedding of the lining of your uterus. When the blood vessels constrict, it's possible that you could feel it in your rectum, causing significant discomfort.
When to see a doctor
If you're concerned that the pain you're experiencing is abnormal or even just more than what you think you can deal with comfortably, call your OB-GYN. I know that some of the treatments that I've been put on have helped dramatically, and no one should feel that they need to suffer in silence. "Pain medication that decreases inflammation such as Ibuprofen can help with pain, especially if it is taken the day before you start your cycle or have the symptoms of rectal pain," Shepherd says. "Over-the-counter medication, like Midol, can be used to treat symptoms. For a more serious condition, a doctor might suggest hormonal therapy or similar treatment." Just get evaluated and get the help you need. You have to be your own best advocate.
Dr. Jessica Shepherd, MD MBA, gynecologist
Erin Graham CNM, Lead Midwife at Baby+Co. in Charlotte, North Carolina
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