The why of 'period poops'

Posted by Carlos Mandeiro on

Period poops are a real thing. Ever noticed that you tend to poop more when you are on your period? Then you are not alone to suffer from “period poops”, an increase in the frequency of your visits to the toilets, which is sometimes punctuated with diarrhoea. Many women have had those ‘symptoms’ for a long time, and even if an explanation won’t solve the issue, understanding what happens in our body and WHY it is doing that can still be really helpful.

Where do period poops come from?

Science communicator Anna Rothschild said in 2016 that "Lots of women experience this phenomenon. And for that you can probably blame two chemical signals: prostaglandins and progesterone."

Prostaglandins aren’t nice. Those chemicals are made in the lining of the uterus and are responsible for the cramping pain you may experience before or during your period. Let’s not be so harsh on them though, because they serve a particular and important purpose: they make your uterus blood vessels and muscle contract to get you started shredding your uterus lining.

High levels of prostaglandins are thus linked with painful cramps. An important thing to note though is that they can wreak havoc your bowels and colon, as they can make them contract as well. This ultimately increases the frequency at which you need to go poop.

Wait for it, because there is more: "Also progesterone, which is a hormone that helps you maintain a pregnancy, is slightly constipating," Rothschild explains. "But levels of it drop during your period, so it lets things loosen up down there."

As progesterone drops during your period, it makes you more likely to experience looser stools. That, along with increased levels of prostaglandins, is likely to explain diarrhoea. With all that increase in hormonal activity, supplements can help.

Is that all there is to it?

While those biological process certainly play a major role, the human body is a complex topic and multiple factors could influence the severity of your discomfort. An increase in poops can also be due to dietary changes around your period, with studies showing an increase in calories taken in during the phase just before your period for example.

Don’t hesitate to up your fibre intake a bit during that time of the month, to add some density to your poops, along with pre- and probiotics to repair the intestines flora that might have been damaged by the diarrhoea.


This article is here to help you better understand what happens in your body during your period, but it is not a medical advice in any form. We encourage you to talk it out with your doctor, and always strongly advise you to consult a doctor for any kind of health issue.


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