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Many women experience the symptoms of menstruation and diarrhea together during their monthly cycle. This is believed to be the result of an excess amount of a compound known as prostaglandin that the uterus produces in higher amounts during the menstrual cycle. Prostaglandins cause both muscle relaxation and contractions that help to gather and move the uterine lining out of the uterus. If an excessive amount of the compound is produced, it can travel through the rest of the body, including the colon, where it can cause diarrhea.
The process that causes the connection between menstruation and diarrhea starts right before a woman’s monthly cycle begins, when cells in the uterus begin to generate a higher number of prostaglandins. Once menstruation starts, the compounds cause an increased number of contractions in the uterus, thus enabling it to efficiently expel the lining. The problems associated with the production of too much prostaglandins start in the uterus, where high levels of the compound can cause stronger and more painful contractions.
When excess prostaglandin begins to travel through the blood stream, the reaction responsible for the direct connection between menstruation and diarrhea begins. Once the blood has carried the compound to the large intestines, which are lined with a smooth muscle similar to that in the uterus, it causes them to contract more quickly and strongly that usual and thus cause the bowels to expel their contents prematurely. High levels of prostaglandins are usually also the cause of the vomiting, headaches, and nausea that many women experience during menstruation.
As prostaglandin causes muscles to both relax and contract, the adverse symptoms that result from excess amounts of the compound can be lessened if the elements in it that cause the muscles to relax are increased. This can be aided by increasing the levels of liblenic and linoleic acids in the body. These acids are most commonly found in fish and vegetables.
Symptoms of both menstruation and diarrhea that appear during a monthly cycle can be alleviated in several ways. Eating healthy and getting adequate exercise can help symptoms by improving overall health. Relaxing with a heating pad on the lower abdomen or back can directly address pain. An over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen can reduce swelling associated with both diarrhea and menstruation. Overall cramping can also be reduced by avoiding caffeine, refined sugars, red meat, and foods with a high fat content.
I never found that refraining from certain foods helped my beast cramps. I could eat chicken soup and crackers and not get any relief.
Here's something strange, though: A bout of diarrhea often relieved bad cramps. I could be having what were clearly menstrual cramps, then have a strong bowel movement, and the cramps would be gone. It was always a relief, since Naproxen was still prescription and not easily obtained. That's really the only thing I took that even made a dent in my cramps.
Maybe the diarrhea eliminated the extra prostglandin. I don't know, but it wasn't always a bad thing.