Does your period make your IBS worse? It does for most women.

Picture of the uterus and the menstrual cycle which may cause IBS symptoms.

Moving through the month, your body changes, and for some people mensturation means more IBS symptoms.
© Can Stock Photo

If you’re here, it’s probably because you want to know if there is a connection between your period and IBS flare ups.

Menstruation is an IBS trigger.  No ifs, ands or buts. But it also makes IBS symptoms worse than during other times of the month.

Read on for the unhappy details.

Women and IBS

I’ve been looking into why women have IBS at twice the rate of men.  I haven’t found anything conclusive about why that is, but I’ve stumbled onto a bunch of studies, showing that menstruation and IBS are connected, AND that menstruation makes IBS worse!

First, let’s list the culprits.

IBS and the menstrual cycle…

Okay, full disclosure. I’m not a woman. I don’t get a period, but I love the women in my life and here’s what they tell me the symptoms are.

Some of those sound like the symptoms of IBS.  In fact many women report having IBS symptoms only during their period.

It’s also true that the nerves in the uterus and the nerves in your bowels, are connected.

I think all these changes, along with hormones and nerve stimulation, is enough to set IBS in motion.

Also, the extra pain signals may aggravate the nerves connected to both the bowels and the uterus, causing EXTRA pain.

Fortunately (or not), for those suffering, there is some proof to back that idea up.

Studies show a connection between menstruation and IBS attacks.


Woman green dress with belly cramps and IBS symptoms

It seems most women are in ENOUGH pain during their menstrual cycle. IBS symptoms are just one more pain you can do without.
© Can Stock Photo

Strange studies with balloons up backsides, show that women with IBS have increased bowel or rectal sensitivity during their periods. Sorry, I’m NOT making this up:

Researchers were testing women with IBS during their menstrual periods.

What researchers did was put SMALL balloons in the each test subject’s rectum. Then the balloons were inflated to put some pressure (like full bowels)  inside the rectum. Women with IBS experienced pain, where women that don’t have IBS had no pain.

But the women with IBS reported greater pain during their periods than between their periods.

To me, that means a woman is more likely to have an IBS flare up if she’s already half way there. It also means it may be more severe than at other times of the month.

Sure it’s proven, but little help yet.

Some women who use birth control pills report a lessening of their IBS symptoms.  Other than that, I would guess it’s a matter of planning ahead.

If you know that you have more problems with IBS during menstruation, then you could try not to schedule long trips away from toilets and such, during those times.

Other than that, there are just the suggestions I make around the site that could help you with your IBS.

As always, check with your doctor (or gynecologist) for help.  She or he may have some other knowledge or tips to help you. If so I hope you’ll let us know here in the comments section.

Can YOU help?

Please share any tips you have about IBS and menstruation and things that help.  Let people know in the comments section!

Find out more about preventing IBS bloating.

Find out more about Abdominal pain and cramping.