IBS and Menstruation: What You Need to Know

IBS and Menstruation: What You Need to Know

Do you notice that your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms are worse during the menstrual phase of your cycle? If so, you’re not alone. Many women with IBS find that their symptoms are worse during their period. Fatigue, sensitivity to gassy foods, backache, pelvic pain, premenstrual syndrome, and insomnia are worse for women with IBS during their periods, but why?

In this post, Dr. Essam Taymour and our team at Gynecology and Obstetrics Medical Group shed light on why IBS is worse during your period and what you can do to reduce the intensity of your symptoms.

Why is IBS worse during your period?

In a word: hormones. Hormones fluctuate throughout your menstrual cycle, and this shift in hormones can intensify your IBS symptoms. Your gut and reproductive cycle are connected in ways you might not realize: You have receptor cells for female sex hormones in your gastrointestinal tract. When estrogen and progesterone fluctuate, it can influence gastrointestinal (GI) function.

Reducing IBS symptoms during your period

Managing your IBS symptoms during your period is the same as treating your IBS symptoms at any other point in the month. Strategies include:

A note about exercise: If your cramps are severe, you may not feel like working out. However, exercise during your period provides many benefits — including reduced pain, improved mood, and less fatigue.

Additionally, if you take medications for IBS, continue to take them as directed. Common medications for IBS include laxatives, antidiarrheals, fiber supplements, anticholinergics, and pain relievers.

When to seek medical attention

If your periods are so painful that they impact your quality of life, don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Taymour. While IBS can make your periods more uncomfortable, many other conditions — such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids — can make periods painful. Uterine fibroids can press on your bowels, which can imitate some IBS symptoms. 

 You may benefit from a pelvic exam if you:

Don’t ignore pelvic pain, regardless of what you suspect is the culprit. To make an appointment at our Long Beach, California, office, give us a call at 562-247-3038 or use our convenient online booking tool.

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