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Diarrhea During Menstruation: What You Need to Know

Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, MD · Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Desiree Gabasa · Updated Nov 01, 2020

Diarrhea During Menstruation: What You Need to Know

Stomach cramps, mood swings, backache – as if it couldn’t get any worse, here comes diarrhea. Uncontrollable diarrhea during menstruation is another bothersome issue that you need to face. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Diarrhea during menstruation is normal due to hormonal changes that link the functions of the menstrual cycle and the digestive system.

How common is diarrhea during menstruation?

Most women experience diarrhea during menstruation before or during their periods. For some, it can actually be a relief, but most of the time, it is inconvenient.

With the cramps and the bloating, how can it even get any worse? There’s no exact reason why this happens but it is believed that it is related to the prostaglandin hormones that are released prior to your period.

diarrhea during menstruation

What are the symptoms of diarrhea during menstruation?

Diarrhea during menstruation and the severity of the symptoms are definitely connected. Many women actually feel that the symptoms worsen during menstruation since this when the body is more reactive to food.

Aside from IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, you’ll also feel the following signs:

  •         Back ache
  •         Painful cramps
  •         Abdominal pain
  •         Fatigue
  •         Water retention
  • Diarrhea could also be a symptom that your period is coming as there are cases when women develop loose bowel movement days after ovulation.

    When should I see my doctor?

    Diarrhea during menstruation shouldn’t be a general concern, but if it’s complemented by intense pain that’s worse than menstrual cramps, then you should see a doctor immediately.

    For most cases, pain relief medication can ease your cramps. When the pain becomes too much, this could be a sign of endometriosis. Gastroenteritis (viral or bacterial) and amoebiasis should also be ruled out.

    For the most part, you may only need to alter your lifestyle to prevent uncontrollable diarrhea during menstruation.

    What causes diarrhea during menstruation? 

    The exact reason why you have uncontrollable diarrhea during menstruation has not been established yet, but the most probable cause is related to your hormones.

    Prostaglandin, a chemical released during menstruation is responsible for the contraction of the uterus. It is also the culprit that accidentally sends the message to “squeeze” the intestines, causing loose bowel movement.

    Diarrhea during menstruation is a common complaint caused by hormonal changes in your body. Unless, of course, if the condition is caused by something other than menstruation related.

    Severe gastrointestinal pain that accompanies diarrhea may be an indication of another medical complication. If you notice blood in your stool, it could be a sign of endometriosis.  See your doctor as soon as possible.

    The Phases of the Menstrual Cycle, Explained

    Seek an appointment with your doctor if you experience the following:

    •         Diarrhea for more than two days
    •         Severe and unbearable gastrointestinal pain
    •         Stomach cramps that won’t go away despite taking medication
    •         Stool with mucus
    • There are a lot of women who go through menstrual diarrhea. And that happens every single month. The great news is that this is actually normal so no need to panic.

      Menstrual diarrhea is caused by the hormone prostaglandin that’s released by the uterus and does not cause any other complication in the body.

      Due to the additional loss of fluid, you may feel a bit tired and weak at some point, making it difficult to go about with your usual activities.

      How is diarrhea during menstruation treated?

      Diarrhea during menstruation can be treated the same way as you would treat common loose bowel movement.

      Here are some proven methods for diarrhea treatment:

      • Take medication like loperamide as this is the most common choice of treatment for diarrhea. You can also take probiotic supplements and fiber to resolve diarrhea faster.
      • Taking birth control pills can help regulate your menstrual cycle and eventually reduce uncontrollable diarrhea during period.
      •  Exercise regularly or at least get moving even if it’s just a 30-minute walk outside your home. Stress could worsen the symptoms of a menstrual period along with diarrhea.

      If you still have other concerns, you can always talk to your doctor or reach out to a therapist.

      How to manage diarrhea during menstruation

      Menstrual diarrhea may be treated and managed differently. It is usually acute but could recur monthly along with your period. Here are some home remedies to help you out:

      Eat Healthy Food

      There’s no need to stop solid food intake since diarrhea during menstruation is basically caused by hormonal changes, and not directly by gastrointestinal problems. Eat a balanced diet to prevent any nutrition deficiency. For now, try to avoid greasy and spicy food that could exacerbate your condition.

      Drink Lots of Water

      Diarrhea may lead to dehydration. Replace the lost electrolytes and fluid by drinking water regularly. Avoid sodas and alcoholic beverages as these could only hasten water depletion.

       Get Some Rest

      Stress and anxiety are common causes of diarrhea and this could definitely aggravate the symptoms of your menstrual period, as well. Get some rest and avoid strenuous activity for the time being.

      Avoid caffeinated beverages

      Stimulants like caffeine can increase fluid loss as they act as diuretics, worsening diarrhea in the process.

      Uncontrollable diarrhea during menstruation is usually a common symptom that goes with having your period. It’s not something that you should worry about, but if you feel other unusual symptoms, then it’s time to see your doctor. 

      Learn more about women’s health, here.


      Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

      Medically reviewed by

      Mary Rani Cadiz, MD

      Obstetrics and Gynecology

      Written by Desiree Gabasa · Updated Nov 01, 2020

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