In general, the symptoms prior to, during, and after menstrual can range from mild to severe. Some menstrual women can experience digestive upsets such as diarrhea or constipation right before or during period. Even these symptoms may also occur few days after menstruation. Knowing a basic knowledge about what will happen in your period can be helpful for you to deal with a multitude of unpleasant and discomfort symptoms.
Both problems are closely associated with the bowel movements. And each problem has its own trigger factors.
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While constipation is characterized by difficulty in bowel movement (difficult passage of stools that last for several days), on the other hand diarrhea is characterized by getting more bowel movements with watery stools.
How many times we get a bowel movement per week can vary from person to person. Bu in general, we can say that you have this digestive problem when you get your bowel movements fewer than 3 times a week.
Going with more than 3 days without passing any stool is considered too long. After 3 days, there is a chance for the waste /stool to get harder and will be more difficult to pass.
Constipation is relatively more common in elderly people and women . Though generally it is not a serious condition, but it can be a concern – particularly if you often have it without known cause! Then how does it occur?
Theoretically, you will have constipation if there are stools or feces that don’t move as well as they should (slower than usual). This slower movement can make the stool become dry and harder.
Fortunately, it is usually more associated with problems in bowel function related with lifestyle factors rather than problems in the structure of the bowel, these include:
- Uncontrolled stress (high stress).
- Poor diet, especially diet with very low in fiber.
- A factor that can disrupt your routine /daily activities, such as when you are travelling.
- Lack of physical activity or poor in exercise.
- Dehydration or when you don’t get plenty of liquid /water. Getting adequate water intake is important for your digestive system.
However, persistent and prolonged constipation with unknown reason may point to a wide range of some health conditions. These may include :
- Mental disorder, such as depression.
- Eating disorders.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Parkinson’s disease.
- Under active thyroid or medically called hypothyroid.
- Sometime a pain due to swollen veins in the canal of anal (this condition is called hemorrhoids) can cause the resistant of urge to get a bowel movement.
- IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
- Colon cancer.
Over time, the overuse of stool softeners such as laxative also can increase the risk of developing chronic constipation because it can weaken the muscles of your bowel .
Furthermore, Constipation also can affect pregnant women. The hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can be potential to affect the balance of fluid in the body. For in-depth information about this issue visit this section!
It is one of the most common problems reported by people of all ages to their doctors. Even it is the second most common illness in the U.S. Children can have more episodes of diarrhea than adults. While average adults can have it about 4 times per year, most children can experience it more often .
This digestive problem is commonly considered as mild problem, but many times it can be very bothersome. It can keep you running for more bowel movements, which then will probably interfere with your routine.
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While in constipation the foods in digestive track move slower than usual, in diarrhea the foods (particularly liquid foods) move faster than usual which may also be followed with poor absorption of liquid by colon .
The way of how you get diarrhea is complex, why? Because there are lots of things that can trigger and cause this digestive problem!
The causes may include:
- Viral or bacterial infection.
- Travelling – in fact, about 30-70 percent of travellers experience a bout of vomiting and diarrhea, depending on the courtesy of contaminated local water /foods.
- Food intolerance. Diarrhea is pretty common in people who have problem in digesting certain foods, such as artificial sweeteners and dairy products.
- Change in diet, particularly such as when you get used with diet very low in fiber and then you change it to become diet very high in fiber, you can experience diarrhea. For this case, you should increase the fiber intake gradually to allow your body responds the change safely!
Furthermore, while most cases of diarrhea are mild problem, but when it becomes chronic or comes without known reason, it may point to certain mild or serious health problems.
Health conditions that can be related to this digestive problem include :
- Chronic pancreatitis.
- Over active thyroid (hyperthyroid).
- Celiac disease (a condition of food tolerance to gluten).
- Inflammatory bowel disease.
Not all menstrual women experience constipation or diarrhea. But in fact, these digestive problems are some of symptoms that can occur right before the day of menstruation .
See also why period cause abdominal bloating, and other common symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) in this section!
Actually, the link between the symptoms associated with digestive system and menstrual period is still not fully understood. However, there are some theories.
Some experts say that there may be a physiological connection between diarrhea and menstrual period. The key answer may come from hormones called prostaglandins .
Right before women menstrual flow starts, the cells of the uterus begins to make and release prostaglandins. The release of these hormones to support some functions, including for helping to stimulate the uterus’s smooth muscles to contract!
This contraction is purposed to expel the accumulated uterine lining. And during period, the production of prostaglandins can reach its peak level.
But there is a chance for the body to produce excessive amount of prostaglandins (higher than the body needs).
When the production of these hormones is too over, menstrual woman tend to have stronger cramps that may also be followed pain. The reason is due to too many prostaglandins can trigger the uterus to contract stronger than it should.
But what is the correlation between the production of prostaglandins and your chance of getting diarrhea or constipation?