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How hormones affect your digestive health and what it means for your period

Readers Lounge By Rachel Murugi
Hormones play a big role in the normal functioning of your body (Photo: Shutterstock)

For women, dealing with shifting hormones in your lifetime is a calling all have been given. Oestrogen and progesterone affect bowel movements and overall digestive health. This is because the cells in your gut have receptors, all which hormones attach to. They are responsible for the feelings felt whether pain or otherwise. 

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For digestion, hormones in your body  control the smooth muscle in your intestines. This is the reason why food may travel either quickly or slowly within your system. For instance, if you are low on the sex hormones, you are most likely to have constipation. Those with higher levels experience ease in their bowel movements. 

Hormones determine the pain level of your cramps, how intense they will be and how they'll last. During the period time, when you have lower estrogen levels, you are most likely going to have more cramp pains. This is because oestrogen boosts the production of serotonin. This is a feel-good chemical in your brain. To mean that when oestrogen is low, so is serotonin. When oestrogen is high, you'll experience less pain and your cramps will be minimal. 

The next experience that is affected by your body hormones greatly is the menstrual cycle. The hormones around the menstruation rise and fall throughout the month. As a result, your bowel movements are affected every month depending on which hormone is in effect. According to a study by medical news today, a great percentage of women attributed their varying digestive health to their period times and ovulation. 

The menstrual cycle has four stages, all which are in 28 days. This is for a regular period in which the following hormonal changes are experienced. 

Menses (days 1-5): You shed the lining of your uterus during menstruation if you aren't pregnant yet at this time. In this stage, estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest. This means that the digestive health may be sensitive, and more cramps. 

Follicular (days 6-14): Estrogen rises, causing the uterine wall to thicken. The production of serotonin comes along, which means that your bowel movements get better, and digestive health could be stable. 

Ovulation (day 14): The egg is released.

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Luteal (days 15-28): Progesterone rises so as to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. If that doesn’t happen, your estrogen and progesterone levels drop quickly during the late luteal phase, around days 24 to 28. More cramps could be expected. You may have to deal with constant constipation for a while.

Our digestive health is quite intertwined with the hormones produced in our bodies. 

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