How do your toilet habits change from week to week in your monthly cycle?

/How do your toilet habits change from week to week in your monthly cycle?

How do your toilet habits change from week to week in your monthly cycle?

My Hormonology

You would be surprised by how many emails I get from women sharing the intimate details of their potty habits across their cycle.

From constipation and diarrhea to the shape, size, color and… well, I’ll just leave it to your imagination.

So, I thought since so many gals have so much interest in their bathroom time–and questions about why and when things change across the menstrual cycle–I’d tackle this toilet topic today:

There are generally two distinct shifts in bowel movements and urinary excretion that occur during your menstrual cycle:

1. During Week 1 of your cycle–your period week: THINGS ARE FLOWING OUT

This will likely come as no surprise to most of you: You’re prone to get loose stool during your period.

Researchers speculate it may be due to a build-up of prostaglandins–hormone-like chemicals that help expel the uterine lining during menstruation by stimulating contractions (the cause of menstrual cramps). These prostaglandins may enter the bloodstream, then make it to the intestines where they expel the contents.

And there’s probably a lot of contents to expel due to constipation–or at least slower emptying–caused by progesterone in the second half of your cycle (see below).

You may have also noticed you’re urinating more frequently right before or during your period. This is likely due to a drop in progesterone, which had caused water retention during your Week 3 and most of your Week 4 (see below). Without progesterone holding things in anymore, you’re passing all that water more easily.

Now, personally, I love this part of my cycle because I enjoy getting rid of the excess heaviness in my belly that comes from a slowdown in bowel movements and urination. By Day 2 of my cycle, I feel lighter and all cleaned-out. Very refreshing.

You, however, may view this phase a bit less positively.

I think this is one of those “Do you see the toilet half-full or half-empty?” kind of situations.

If frequent diarrhea is really interrupting your day, you may want to try the natural remedy I use in these situations, which is taking 500 mg. of calcium twice daily. This mineral is known for clogging things up down below by slowing down movement in the intestine and hardening stools. But, if you can, it’s probably far better to simply let things run their course so it’s all out of you.


2. During Week 3 of your cycle–the week after ovulation–and some of Week 4: THINGS ARE STAYING IN

A rise in progesterone in this week prompts two key changes in bathroom behavior: It makes it more difficult for you to move your bowels by triggering constipation and hard stools. And it prompts water retention, leading to bloat.

What’s more, while your body’s level of progesterone starts to drop in your premenstrual Week 4, because this hormone is still present–though in lesser amounts–you may continue to experience constipation, hard stool and water retention right up to a couple of days before your period or until your Week 1 actually begins.

So, why is progesterone being so greedy with your food and beverages, not allowing them to easily pass through in this phase of your cycle?

Researchers believe that progesterone wants your body to hold onto whatever you ingest longer as a way to sap more nutrients from them in case you got pregnant during ovulation and now need nutrients for two.

If constipation is bothering you, there are two study-proven remedies to help you get regular to try before resorting to drugstore treatments:

The first constipation remedy is rye bread. In a 2010 study in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers 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 move contents along. What’s more, it does the job without cramping or other uncomfortable side effects.

Not a rye bread fan? A 2011 study from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine shows that prunes (now called by the less geriatric-sounding moniker “dried plums”) work more effectively than psyllium-containing fiber additives (like Metamucil and Fiberall) at making you regular again thanks to their sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that has a mild stool-softening effect.

Personally, I reverse progesterone-triggered constipation with 250 mg. of magnesium twice daily plus a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. Careful if you try this remedy though: Sometimes, it can work a little too well. If it’s too effective for you or you need a milder boost down below, then try taking just one 250 mg. dose of magnesium and half a teaspoon of olive oil.

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My Hormonology

By | 2018-09-09T13:06:33+00:00 July 29th, 2017|health, hormonology tip, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4|16 Comments

About the Author:

Gabrielle Lichterman is the founder of Hormonology, author of 28 Days: What Your Cycle Reveals about Your Love Life, Moods and Potential and creator of the popular Hormone Horoscope apps and Female Forecaster app. She teaches how hormones impact a woman's moods, health and behavior in talks and workshops.

16 Comments

  1. Gabrielle Lichterman August 3, 2018 at 10:37 am

    It’s normal to be more likely to experience constipation for the two weeks before your next period–what’s consider the “second half” of your cycle. This is due to a higher level of progesterone. As for whether something has “changed”, there are many factors to consider when it comes to changes in bathroom habits. You can get constipated or have diarrhea due to foods, illness, anxiety, travel and other issues. Hormones in your monthly cycle are just one factor influencing them.

  2. Gabrielle Lichterman August 3, 2018 at 8:39 am

    I personally use magnesium and olive oil because both help move things along. But, constipation is more likely during the two weeks before your period due to rising progesterone. Once your period arrives, you usually have the opposite situation: You’re more likely to have loose stool or diarrhea. (This is all based on the hormones in your cycle. Naturally, you can get constipated or have diarrhea due to foods, illness, anxiety, travel and other factors.) I recommend trying natural laxatives before resorting to medications from the drugstore. Naturally, if you’re taking supplements, you need to ensure they’re safe for you personally to take (because of your own personal health issues) by asking your healthcare provider about them and/or reading up on their side effects and how they interact with other medications or supplements. WebMD has a pretty comprehensive library of information about vitamins, herbs and other supplements. That’s a good place to start.

  3. Huong July 13, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    So you take magnesium and olive oil as laxatives every month when your period comes? I’m often constipated but not sure how often i should take laxatives to relieve the symptoms. This past month before my period came i had serious constipation that has lasted until now.

  4. Sophie July 11, 2018 at 3:43 am

    Great article! So being constipated for about a week after I finish my period is completely normal? I thought something was wrong with me! Although this has only happened I say in the last 4 months, before that this did not happen to me, has something changed?

  5. Gabrielle Lichterman June 20, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    So glad you found it useful!

  6. Gabrielle Lichterman June 20, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    As estrogen climbs, it has a slight diuretic effect — meaning it prompts your body to release urine more easily. So, during ovulation when estrogen is peaking, it makes sense that you could pass more fluid. However, what you’re describing — bladder feeling full but not much comes out — is something else. This is something I’d like you to talk with your healthcare provider about because it can be a symptom of a condition that you may have all cycle long, but may worsen around ovulation due to high estrogen.

  7. Adelaid June 10, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    I noticed that during ovulation ptwriod i urinate very frequently. Durin th daytime if feels like the bladder is full all the time, while there might not be much urine. I often have to wake up a few time while i sleep. But there wasnt much urine there.
    Is it also due to the progesterone? Is thre things or medication that i can take to help with the situation?

  8. Smitha June 9, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    Fantastic article – light-hearted but very useful. I’ve been googling my tummy symptoms for a while and this is the best article I’ve read so far! Thanks for the info 😊

  9. Gabrielle Lichterman May 21, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    If you need to empty your bladder a lot while running, it’s likely that you’re (wisely) hydrating a lot and, depending on the intensity of your exercise, you may trigger mechanisms that cause you to urinate more frequently or you’re putting pressure on your bladder, causing a greater urgency. If this kind of frequent urination continues outside of exercise, see your healthcare provider because it can be a symptom of an issue that needs to be addressed.

  10. Caroline Garcia May 21, 2018 at 5:46 am

    What do you think on peeing a lot while running period? I am sure you are the right person who can advise me the best. Thanks in advance…..

  11. Gabrielle Lichterman December 18, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    The rise in progesterone during the second half of our menstrual cycle (following ovulation) is the key culprit behind cycle-related constipation. Progesterone rises so high because of ovulation. Once ovulation ceases due to menopause, this cyclical spike in progesterone ceases, too, so there won’t be a monthly phase where you can expect constipation. However, as you transition through menopause, you may experience digestive sluggishness as hormone levels fluctuate. You may also experience digestive sluggishness as a result of low estrogen. So, your physical therapist may have been right — for some women, low estrogen can trigger constipation. But, with a healthy diet high in fiber and water, regular exercise, and natural remedies (such as rye bread and prunes), you can help overcome it.

  12. Gabby December 16, 2017 at 10:29 am

    So that leads me to a question….once we hit menopause, should we expect constipation or easy out?
    I had heard a physical therapist once say that women might become more constipated without their period, however your article makes me question that theory.

  13. Gabrielle Lichterman November 7, 2017 at 7:18 pm

    Callie, the effects in your “luteal” phase (the last 14 days of your cycle) would be the same for someone with a cycle longer or shorter than 28 days because the hormones would be following the same up and down pattern. However, since you pointed out that your cycle is so very long, if it’s not due to birth control, I urge you to consult with your gyn about this and let her or him know. Excessively long cycles can be an indication of a condition that needs to be addressed.

  14. Callie October 26, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    This article is spot on to what I am always feeling during ovulation and the week of my period. Do you have any insight on longer cycles and the effects? For example, my cycle is about 45-55 days long and I feel like I get a double whammy and double the effects, and sometimes find that during the “everything stay in week” is almost intolerable!

  15. Gabrielle Lichterman August 21, 2017 at 10:01 am

    Glad you found it helpful, Sharon!

  16. Sharon Reams August 21, 2017 at 6:26 am

    Really thankful to read this article. I needed to know it as well. Great post!!

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