How Hormones Impact Your Poop
By: Julia Pintar
Hi! This is Julia, Aavia's first marketing intern! You'll find me in the Aavia blog this summer, writing about all things hormone health.
Following my morning “poop check,” as I like to call it, I was SHOCKED at the vibrant green blob staring back at me in the toilet. Luckily, I quickly remembered this was most likely the result of the bright green St. Patrick’s Day bagels I had consumed the day before.
St. Paddy’s Day poop aside, though, if you're someone with ovaries, you might have noticed that your bowel movements can change throughout your cycle. When we are on the go, we want to know when we have to go!
First, let’s review the ovarian hormone cycle 🔽🔽
Ovarian Hormone Cycle
Hormones act as messengers that tell the body what to do. People with ovaries operate on a hormonal cycle different from the 24-hour circadian rhythm cycle following sunlight.
The hormone cycle occurs in two phases: follicular and luteal.
The follicular phase is the first half of the cycle; it starts on the first day of your period and ends right before ovulation. Ovulation is when the body releases an egg for potential fertilization. During the follicular phase, estrogen is the dominant hormone that boosts mood and helps us deal with stress while growing the egg 🥚that will eventually be released.
The second half of the cycle is the luteal phase, which begins right after ovulation and finishes the day before your period. Throughout luteal estrogen falls if not pregnant. Progesterone peaks in luteal one 🔼 and then drops again in luteal two ⬇️. Rising progesterone levels cause moodiness and increased stress.
For more, check out our post on an in-depth look at the ovarian hormone cycle.
What’s my Pooposcope?
Changing hormones obviously impact mood: we’ve all felt the luteal blues. But did you know that your hormones affect your poop color and consistency as well? Bowel movements are a window into what’s going on with digestion and gut health. Knowing what poop should look like throughout your cycle helps us ensure everything is on track.
What to expect: “Period poops” are no joke! Poop anxiety might be at an all-time high; there’s no avoiding that office or school bathroom. Expect to use the restroom more in this phase.
Why it happens: Fatty acids relax the smooth muscle tissues inside the uterus to help shed its lining. The fatty acids often impact the bowels similarly, leading to more poop (and sometimes diarrhea).
Reducing symptoms: Fiber and hydration are the names of the game during this phase. Feel good about spending extra for berries at that summer farmer’s market when you know you’re helping your cycle! To combat dehydration caused by extra elimination, always have water handy.
Quick Tip: Putting half of an avocado in a morning smoothie increases fiber AND makes for a creamy and smooth morning pick-me-up!
What to expect: As progesterone spikes around ovulation, you may notice firmer stool and decreased bowel movements. You're all good as long as you feel you don’t have to strain when you go.
Why it happens: Progesterone impairs smooth muscle contractions, leading to more difficult bowel movements.
Reducing symptoms: Bowel movements will become normal again within a week or so, but in the meantime, continue prioritizing fiber such as ground flaxseeds or psyllium husk mixed with water.
Quick tip: This might be the best time for that long hike! No need to worry about having to go number two in the woods, plus all that walking might stir things up in there and help you get a bowel movement 💩
My poops don’t follow the Pooposcope… What does it mean?
I can’t go! 😠
Pooping is the primary way our body releases excess estrogen. Feeling constipated? You’re also likely feeling other PMS symptoms, such as heavy periods, tender breasts, low libido, headaches, and mood swings.
Help your hormones out by promoting bowel movements through hydration, increasing fiber, and movement!
-When you’re constipated AND busy, a morning yogurt or granola bowl with fibrous ingredients can help get you moving in a rush. Bananas 🍌, berries, and oats are full of fiber and, coincidentally, all fit perfectly into a morning oatmeal bowl!
-Some sunlight in the morning jumpstarts your circadian clock, and can wake you up! A morning walk can get your bowels moving while regulating your circadian rhythm.
I’m going too much! 😵
Diarrhea during and around menstruation is normal. But it’s definitely not fun and fresh! Ongoing diarrhea throughout the rest of your cycle may not be hormonal and can deserve a doctor's visit.
What to do now?
Track your poop in Aavia! 💜🌈 Tracking your number twos is a great starting point for understanding what normal means to you. Everybody’s body is different, and sometimes your normal isn’t another person’s normal. Discover your poop habits through tracking and determine your body's pooping patterns!