Nobody understands why people get irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a digestive disease that affects up to 15% of the population and causes stomach pain, cramps, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation.
Experts agree on one point: your gender does have an impact, and women are roughly twice as likely as males to suffer from IBS. An increasing number of studies suggest that sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone may be blamed, and they can cause IBS symptoms, explaining why you have more flare-ups at different times of the menstrual cycle.
Menstruation and IBS
Because these hormones fluctuate throughout the month, it stands to reason that they could influence IBS symptoms. According to one study, nearly 40% of women with IBS said it impairs their menstrual cycle symptoms.
This cycle, which lasts about 28 days, is divided into four stages:
- Menstruation (days 1–5): You shed the uterine lining during menstruation if you are not pregnant.
- Follicular (days 6-14): Estrogen levels rise, thickening the uterine wall.
- The egg is released during ovulation (day 14).
- Luteal (days 15-28): Progesterone levels rise as the uterus prepares for pregnancy. If this doesn’t happen, your estrogen and progesterone levels will plummet during the late luteal phase, lasting from 24 to 28.
As hormone levels drop, IBS worsens. You are more prone to become bloated, constipated, or have diarrhea during the late luteal phase. As hormone levels drop to their lowest point during menstruation, symptoms such as stomach pain, discomfort, and constipation or diarrhea become more common and severe.
To make matters worse, IBS patients who suffer from painful periods, a disease is known as dysmenorrhea, are twice as likely to see an increase in symptoms.
Hormones and IBS
Estrogen and progesterone influence IBS symptoms in various ways, ranging from how your intestines function to how much pain you experience. The cells in your gut have receptors that allow these hormones to attach to them, and this implies that your digestive system is geared to detect and respond to them. The following are the main ways they influence IBS:
- They regulate the smooth muscle in your intestines, determining how quickly food moves through your system. In one study, animals who received a low dose of the hormones took longer to empty their bowels than those that received a higher dose. This could explain why a lack of sex hormones can cause constipation.
- The intensity of your cramps is affected by these hormones. A drop decreases your pain threshold because estrogen increases the production of serotonin, a feel-good chemical in your brain. A surge in estrogen might alleviate part of the aching element, making your stomachaches or cramps less painful.
- Inflammation: Sex hormones can increase inflammation levels throughout your body. This aggravates your IBS symptoms.
The majority of research has connected estrogen and progesterone to IBS. However, researchers have discovered that male sex hormones may protect against illness, such as testosterone, which could explain why men are less prone to develop the condition.
How to Avoid IBS Symptoms During Periods?
Managing your IBS symptoms during your period is the same as at any other time of the month. Among the strategies are:
- Avoid triggering foods, such as chocolate, fried foods, broccoli, garlic, and onions.
- Consuming soluble fiber-rich foods such as oats, apples, and barley.
- Avoid gas-producing meals because your body may be more sensitive to them during your period.
- Keeping hydrated.
- Practicing good sleep hygiene and making adequate quality sleep a priority.
- Regular exercise.
- Eating frequently to minimize GI distress and blood sugar falls.
A word regarding exercise: If your cramps are severe, you may not want to exercise. However, exercising during your period has numerous advantages, including lower discomfort, greater mood, and less exhaustion.
Furthermore, if you use IBS drugs, continue to take them as advised. Laxatives, antidiarrheals, fiber supplements, anticholinergics, and pain relievers are common IBS drugs.
When To See A Doctor?
If your periods are so painful that they interfere with your quality of life, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Nazli Hameed. While IBS can make your periods more painful, many other illnesses, such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids can also make your periods painful. Uterine fibroids can put pressure on your bowels, mimicking certain IBS symptoms.
A pelvic exam may be beneficial if you:
- You can’t get out of bed since you’re on your period.
- You are unable to work since you are on your period.
- Can’t function without pain relievers.
- Take note of any unusual cramps or pelvic pressure.
- While using the restroom, you feel pelvic pain.
Book an appointment now to answer all your queries. You can book an appointment with the top Female specialist in Islamabad through Marham by calling at Marham helpline: 0311-1222398 or by online booking facility through the website or Marham mobile app.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1- Does the menstrual cycle affect IBS?
It is quite normal for women suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to notice that their symptoms fluctuate at certain points during their menstrual cycle. According to experts, half of all women with IBS have worse bowel symptoms during their period.
2- Why is my IBS worse during my period?
Around the onset of your period, both hormones are at their lowest levels. According to research, as hormone levels fall, IBS symptoms intensify. Because, like your uterus, your stomach has receptors for these hormones, which can impact how your gut contracts, gut sensitivity, and inflammation levels.
3- Can periods cause IBS to flare up?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is twice as common in women as in males. Sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone may be to blame. It’s possible that they set off IBS symptoms, which would explain why you’re more susceptible to flare-ups at certain times of the month.
Barry Lachey is a Professional Editor at Zobuz. Previously He has also worked for Moxly Sports and Network Resources “Joe Joe.” he is a graduate of the Kings College at the University of Thames Valley London. You can reach Barry via email or by phone.