Unfortunately for SIBO sufferers, who already likely experience gut upset this can make symptoms ten times worse. You can end up with even more symptoms than usual because there are now more factors effecting the gut than SIBO alone.
Here is why:
For your period to shed from your uterus as required, the cells that line your uterus begin to produce more prostaglandins. Prostaglandins stimulate the smooth muscle in the uterus to help the lining shed and exit the body.
If your body produces more prostaglandins than it needs, this chemical can travel beyond your uterus and work on stimulating other smooth muscle tissue outside the uterus. Smooth muscle tissue is also what moves things through the bowels.
This can cause diarrhea.
High levels of progestogen which occur right before your period starts can slow digestion. If there are not enough prostaglandins to balance this out, you can end up constipated.
Leading up to your period your hormones go through rapid changes so getting the balance right isn’t an easy task. You may experience both diarrhea and constipation throughout the day or week.
Personal experience with periods and SIBO
Why period poops and pains can be worse for SIBO suffers
I never understood why my period would seemingly make my symptoms worse but with a better understanding of the above I see why.
• Periods make SIBO bloating more intense and painful
Periods cause bloating in general. Unusual food cravings may lead to different food choices that make bloating worse. You also retain more fluid before and during the first part of your period so this will make you seem even more bloated than usual.
Many cycles my period made it hard to move and function in daily life (not that SIBO didn’t do that on its own) it really put things in super charged mode.
• Two factors driving pain in the abdomen
Periods are very painful stuff sometimes. SIBO is nasty and painful stuff most of the time. The combination of both can leave you really at a loss on what to do.
I would experience the worst gut pain around my period. My SIBO symptoms always got worse about 4 days after ovulation. I would highly encourage you to period track and see if you notice this too.
• Mental health
In the phase of your cycle where these changes start occurring, it is common to experience some level of PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) due to rapidly changing hormone levels. Serotonin is the mood regulating hormone.
In some women serotonin gets quite low before the period starts. This can be addressed with certain medications such as SSRI (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) but you need to consult a doctor about if this is right for you.
In the luteal phase of the cycle (right before the period) feeling anxious and sad is more common. SIBO can also leave you feeling like this due to the daily struggles it brings. You can end up feeling even more down and depressed about your gut struggles as symptoms increase and you feel worse about yourself and life in general.
It is important that if you feel it is all getting too much you speak to a professional ASAP to treat your SIBO.
If you need additional support, please visit our forum.
If you are in a state of crisis, please call a crisis line. I hope you are not in this position if you are reading this, but I have attached the numbers below just in case one person needs it right now. Wishing you a full recovery.
USA: 1 (800) 273 8255
Canada: 1 (833) 456 4566
New Zealand: 1737
United Kingdom: 0800 689 5652
Denmark: 4570 201 201
France: 0145 394 000
Full list of a larger range of countries here: https://www.opencounseling.com/suicide-hotlines