Have you ever noticed you get horrible constipation when you travel? Or change your diet? Or eat certain foods?
Well, those aren’t the only variables that affect your bathroom habits. Odds are, you’re also getting a bit backed-up during the second half of your cycle–your Week 3 and Week 4.
Here’s why: Progesterone–which rises in Week 3, then falls in Week 4–is a hormone that slows things to a crawl in your digestive tract as a way to enable your body to absorb more nutrients from whatever you ingest in case you got pregnant during ovulation and are now eating for two.
While that’s an entirely awesome trick your body automatically does to ensure the health of your baby, it can be totally annoying to deal with when there’s no baby on board since it can trigger uncomfortable bloating, gas, cramps, hemorrhoids and general heaviness.
The good news? You don’t have to put up with the constipation. And you don’t have to resort to taking drugstore laxatives as your first line of defense to to nix it.
That’s because there are a whole host of natural, study-proven remedies you can try first to get things moving along so you can return to your regularly scheduled bathroom appointments.
Here’s what the researchers say can work to reverse your constipation due to hormones or any other reason:
1. Eat rye bread: A 2010 study in the Journal of Nutrition found that rye bread works more effectively than laxatives and probiotics at relieving constipation thanks to a type of fiber that ferments in the intestine and triggers contractions that make stuck contents move. What’s more, it does the job without cramping or other uncomfortable side effects.
2. Snack on dried plums: A 2011 study from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine shows that Grandma’s tried-and-true constipation remedy–prunes (now known as “dried plums”)–was shown to work more effectively than psyillium-containing fiber additives (like Metamucil and Fiberall) at making you regular again thanks to their sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that has a mild laxative effect.
3. Chew sugar-free gum made with xylitol: This is another sugar alcohol that has a mild laxative effect. Plus, the chewing sends signals to your gut to get things moving, which can help push contents through your body faster.
4. Pop 250 mg. of magnesium: I take magnesium as part of my migraine-thwarting daily regimen. But, another benefit of taking this mineral is that it loosens your stool, which comes in quite handy when progesterone is firming things up.
5. Give yourself a massage: In a new study out of the University of California, Los Angeles, 72% of folks with constipation who tried perineal self-acupressure–where you gently press and massage the perineum, which is the area between the anus and genitals–whenever you feel the urge to “go” found it helped them achieve success in the bathroom. As the researchers explain it, this simple technique works by breaking up hard stools, relaxing muscles and stimulating nerves responsible for bowel movements.
Hope these tips help you the next time you’re feeling blocked up!