Search IconSearch

Here’s the Deal with Period Poops

Why you experience tummy troubles during your menstrual cycle

woman with cramping during period

It’s that time of the month, and with it come a few side effects that you could do without: constipation, bloating, diarrhea… maybe even all of the above.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Many people have mild, manageable digestive distress related to their menstrual cycle. For others, it’s more severe.

Regardless of your symptoms, family medicine physician Donald Ford, MD, MBA, Chairman of the Department of Family Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, shares steps you can take to manage period poops and other cycle-related stomach issues.

Why do you poop more on your period?

Blame it on hormones. Each month, just before your period begins, fatty acids known as prostaglandins begin to relax the smooth muscle tissues inside your uterus to help it shed its lining.

But those same prostaglandins can have a similar impact on your bowels, leading to — you guessed it — more poop, and even diarrhea.

“It makes sense if you think of the cycle,” Dr. Ford says. “Until ovulation, the uterus is preparing to accept the egg and, once it starts, the opposite happens — it’s cleansing to get ready for the next cycle.”

For people with existing digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease, period-related poop problems may be more severe.

You might be constipated between periods, too

Another period-related hormone, progesterone, can cause diarrhea in some people and constipation in others.

Progesterone is responsible for the growth and thickening of the uterine walls, and it peaks right before ovulation. A buildup of the hormone can cause bowel issues.

“Progesterone typically promotes constipation, which tends to come around ovulation or a couple of days after,” he says.

Other period-related stomach issues

Some of the other abdominal symptoms you experience around your period aren’t related to your digestive system at all. During menstruation, the hormones that your body releases hormones can cause:

  • Bloating.
  • Water retention.
  • Abdominal cramping.

“While these symptoms may feel like they’re taking place in your stomach, they’re actually happening in the uterus,” Dr. Ford explains.

How to ease period poop problems

Hormones happen, and no matter what you do, you probably can’t prevent a little bit of stomach trouble related to your periods. But you can take steps to lessen them and to take care of your tummy.

1. Eat a clean diet

The first line of defense for digestive issues is a healthy diet.

“Eat healthy food and get plenty of natural fiber,” Dr. Ford says. “Some people also take fiber supplements, but there’s some controversy over whether or not those are effective.”

Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and leafy greens to maintain regular bowel habits. And try not to indulge those pre-period junk food cravings, which can further your upset stomach and cause extra-smelly stool and gas.

2. Stay hydrated

Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, a loss of water and nutrients from your body’s tissues — which can become a serious problem if left unaddressed.


If you’re prone to loose stool come that time of the month, stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. And avoid coffee, if you can, which has a laxative effect that you just don’t need right now.

3. Try medication

Taking ibuprofen right before the start of your period may prevent the release of prostaglandins, thus easing the pain of your period and your period poops. Just be sure to carefully follow the dosage instructions.

For constipation, Dr. Ford recommends taking a gentle brand like MiraLAX® or stool softeners to relieve constipation as needed. If your constipation is chronic, prescription medications such as linaclotide or lubiprostone may offer an effective solution.

4. Consider oral contraceptives

If your digestive issues become debilitating, your doctor may recommend oral contraceptives that reduce the frequency of your periods. If you’re already taking contraceptives, one option is to skip periods by skipping the week of placebos.

“It doesn’t fix the problem, but it makes it happen less frequently,” Dr. Ford says.

It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor if you have major symptoms like severe cramping with your period, he says. Also, if you ever have pain accompanied by blood in your stool, see your physician as soon as possible to rule out more serious problems.


Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Female holding hair up at neck, eyes closed, fanning herself with piece of paper
July 9, 2024/Women's Health
Hot Flashes, Anxiety and Menopause: What’s the Connection?

You may be more prone to hot flashes if you have anxiety, but hot flashes can also rev up anxiety

Female sitting on couch looking at a pregnancy test stick, holding cell phone
This May Surprise You — But You Can Get Pregnant on Your Period

While it’s probably not your most fertile time, it is possible to get pregnant if you have unprotected sex during your period

Healthcare provider holding packet of birth control pills
May 3, 2024/Women's Health
What Happens When You Skip a Birth Control Pill?

The scenarios vary based on how many pills you’ve missed and whether you take a combination pill or progestin-only pill

Hand holding packet of birth control pills in front of feet on a scale
April 23, 2024/Women's Health
Birth Control and Weight Gain: What the Science Says

Despite popular opinion, scientific research shows that most birth control methods don’t contribute to weight gain

Person on scale, questioning muscle weight vs. fat weight
April 12, 2024/Exercise & Fitness
The Difference Between Muscle Weight vs. Fat Weight

Both are needed for a healthy body

Healthcare provider holding prescription bottle talking with older female
April 12, 2024/Women's Health
What Does a Hot Flash Feel Like?

Heat starts in your chest and moves up to your neck and face … and then, the sweating begins

Female sitting in chair with hot waves coming off their head
April 9, 2024/Women's Health
8 Myths and Truths About Menopausal Hot Flashes

While they may not burn calories or cause fevers, these heat waves can make you miserable — but you don’t have to just grin and bear it!

Plate full of colorful and healthy fruits, veggies and grains
April 8, 2024/Women's Health
6 Ways To Boost Breast Health

Taking precautions like eating healthy, stopping smoking and getting regular screenings can help protect against breast cancer

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims