During your period, the hormone progesterone and prostaglandins can make the smooth muscle in your intestines more or less active. Taking an antacid or placing a heating pad on your lower belly can help mild symptoms. If you’re dealing with more intense discomfort, you may need a prescription antacid. It’s not worrisome unless it causes such severe GI distress that it keeps you from leaving the house.
Certain conditions can exacerbate the situation, too. Some women who have a retroverted uterus, for example, (which isn’t dangerous and requires no intervention) have more bowel issues because the uterus pushes down on the large intestine. If your period triggers bloody diarrhea or abdominal pain so bad that you can’t eat, that can be endometriosis, and you should definitely see your ob-gyn for a checkup.
Source: Michelle Tham Metz, M.D., assistant clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City
This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of Women’s Health. For more great advice, pick up a copy of the issue on newsstands now!
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