Period Poop: Why Your Poop Is SO BAD On Your Period, As Told By Other Women & A Real Life Expert

Periods are rough. Pooping on your period is an entirely different level of rough. For many of us, when we have our periods, we're in hell. Like, let's not lie about this. No matter how much effort you might put into having a less wild period, it's just a hard experience. Your body is literally shedding itself: your uterus is contracting to push blood out of your body. And no, it's not in a beautiful, easy stream of red. It's in big creepy clumps and explosions the moment you dare stand up or sneeze or god forbid, laugh. It's gonna hurt. As if that doesn't sound awful enough, this leads to a number of other issues. You get cramps. You get headaches. Your legs and lower back hurt. You kind of want to throw up.

And, of course, you start shitting your brains out.

Despite random confused men thinking it's possible for women to turn their periods on and off on cue, those of us who have periods are well aware of just how unpredictable they can be, period poop included. It might be something that happens solely on day one of your period, but it's more likely to be a sort of sporadic thing. You're at work in a meeting, or you're running on the treadmill, or you're reaching for that third cookie (because chocolate really is a period essential) and then it hits you: the period shits.

But why do we poop so much on our periods?

First things first: you're not imagining things.

You really do poop more when you're on your period.

"It’s not in our heads that we, as women, with working menstrual cycles, would feel like we poop more during our periods," explains Jenifer La, MS, RD, LDN. "There are two main reasons attributed to this – hormones and diet."

And yes, it really is that bad. "The two hormones that could affect period poops are prostaglandins and progesterone," Dr. La explains. "Prostaglandins help our uterus to contract, in preparation to effectively push out blood. You can consider prostaglandins as Lord Walder Frey, from Game of Thrones, as it can cause not only just uterus cramping, but the 'Red Wedding' scene in a toilet bowl (a.k.a. period diarrhea). Oh the betrayal."

"Another hormone is progesterone, which helps our bodies prepare itself for contraception and pregnancy, as well as regulating our menstrual cycle. Progesterone can either slow down or speed up our GI system, leading to symptoms of either irritable or frequent bowel movements." So your butt might be mad at you, or your butt might be ~doing its thing~ more than usual, or BOTH. So. Much. Fun. 

You can blame it on the location of your uterus. 

"Okay, so the science behind period poops, to my understanding as a person who talks almost exclusively about my uterus and my b-hole, has a lot to do with your bodily logistics," Her Campus News Editor/Resident Poop Expert Katie Speller explains. "Your uterine lining is obvs thick and your hormones are going wild — and your uterus is located near your colon. So, the wild chemistry experiment going on in your uterus can have some effect on your poop-making materials, leading you to either never be able to poop or have to poop aggressively."

One of the worst things about period poop is that it doesn't give a fuck about what else you have going on in your life. You're probably very busy. You probably don't want to tell your boss/professor/date you can't come anymore because you're stuck on the toilet. But your period continues on, poop included.

Sarah* sums it up perfectly: "I don't have any secrets for period poop, but it's hell because sometimes you get hit with the double whammy of period poops + hangover shits...tmi but being a girl can be rough."

Because we love you, we asked how women deal with these shitty moments.

While it's always good to hear from professionals and experts when it comes to body issues, there's something comforting about hearing from Real Live Women. Felicity explained, "TBH, I always forget that period poops are a thing until they happen every month. I always confuse my actual period cramps and period poop cramps and then it just feels like a clusterf*ck of cramps that I don't understand. I never know if I need to take, like, 3 ibuprofens or just need to sit in the bathroom for a half hour. Oh, and don't even get me started on the gas that comes before — literally feel like my stomach is going to blow up from the pressure." 

"My period poop survival tips?" Katie says, "I strongly suggest having in your underwear collection undies that are either dark (Period Panties are a fave), White (bleachable) or just crappy, so you don’t mind that they might get some kinda racing stripe action (shit happens, leaks happen. Get used to it.)"

"Lots of water w/ lemon makes it worst temporarily, but then you like flush it all out, and you're gucci," Sarah* says. 

While chocolate and crying is all good and well, working out and eating veggies will help more.

What you eat does matter when it comes to having a better period. "Maintaining your fiber-rich diet will ease your period diarrhea symptoms," Dr. La says. "The fiber will help bind your stool to solidify itself. Fiber keeps us regular and our GI system happy! Gradually increase your fiber intake throughout the week and make sure you are drinking plenty of water to help ease any more symptoms of constipation. Aim for 25 grams of fiber per day, and at least 64oz of water per day."

Do you really have to work out, or can you just sleep on your heating pad all week? According to Dr. La, you should get moving to get it moving (har har. But really). "Healthy bowel movements also require physical activity. If we choose to wallow in our sorrows of bleeding, we aren’t helping our symptoms of cramps, bloating, and constipation/diarrhea. Although you don’t have to keep an intense work out, going outside for a brisk walk, or doing low-intensity-steady-state exercises for at least 30 minutes, 3-5x per week can be just as impactful. It does not have to be a consecutive 30 minutes; whether it is 15 minutes of an at home work out video before work and another 15 minute power walk during your lunch break, 30 minutes is 30 minutes."

Treat yourself, and your butt.

"Buy wet wipes. Pamper your butt like the fancy baby you were meant to be," Katie recs. "You deserve this."

Jenna totally agrees. "Baby wipes are a MUSTTT. I started carrying them around in my bag. But I wish women weren't so self conscious about this topic because its normal and I feel like we don't acknowledge what our bodies are going through and we just think its gross. But its so natural and normal." 100% yes. Adding shame to the mix isn't helpful considering the impact stress can have on your body.

You can also make your life easier by using products like Blume's Cloud 9 PMS Oil and Athena Club's organic tampons with no harsh chemicals can definitely make your life easier. I'm also a big fan of Yogi Tea's Woman's Moon Cycle Tea to help ease cramps. 

Don't be embarrassed - not with your friends, and especially not with your doctor.

Suffering tends to be a bit less sucky when we suffer together, and without shame. I asked Dr. La how we can stop being so freaking embarrassed about talking about our periods, and all that comes with it. "Period poops are normal - they happen. We should not be embarrassed of something that happens naturally! Plus, there are far more disgusting things than period poop."

Talk about your period, ask your friends to take notes in class so you can sleep and cry through it, and, seriously, talk to your doctor if you're concerned. Things like endometriosis are nothing to ignore, so it's always better to keep an eye on your body!

Dr. La is all about sharing, regularly and proudly.  "I would highly recommend speaking to either your primary care physician, or obstetrician/gynecologist for further questions if you believe your cycle and bowel movements are far more irregular than usual. It is important to talk about our periods, and all that it encompasses (i.e. bloating, cramping, and period poops for that matter) as it is all related to women’s health."

You won't know what's up unless you talk about it. "I have met both friends and patients who had undiagnosed conditions such as endometriosis, because they grew up thinking their symptoms were normal, since they 'never talked about it,'" Dr. La says. "You truly won’t know if something is 'normal' until you speak up and openly discuss it with your friends, parents, and health care team!"

This was published as a part of The Most Real: Sex, Wellness, and Bodies, our answer to your questions (and, let's be real, our questions) about everything sexual health and wellness. Tampons, strap-ons, first time sex, ingrown bikini hairs, why you poop so much when you're on your period - we're getting real. Get real with us. Join the convo using #HCMostReal, and tagging @HerCampus.