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  • Heather Woodruff

PMS & IBS – the hormonal link

Managing PMS along with your chronic digestive issues can be a painfully exhausting time of the month.

Women with IBS are more likely to experience the following symptoms associated with menstruation; cramps, backache, low energy, insomnia, water retention and brain fog. On top of all that, they often will frustratingly need to also deal with worsening gut inflammation on the days leading up and during their period.


By hormones I am referring to specifically estrogen and progesterone as these two are the big ones for menstruation. There are actually receptor sites for these two hormones all through your digestive tract and they appear to modulate gut lining secretions.

After ovulation (Day 14ish) women are more likely to experience bloating and constipation. Then a few days leading up to menstruation and during menstruation women often may experience abdominal pain, diarrhea and nausea.

Even though there appears to be a hormone – IBS correlation here there isn’t a solidly understood ‘why’ for the reason women with IBS are more prone to intensely uncomfortable PMS. And birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy do not appear to help gut inflammation.

In a nut shell: there is a link but we are still not 100% sure of the physiological reason.

My two cents: The gut is our earth and centre of our wellbeing. I have seen some pretty amazing seemingly unrelated health issues resolve themselves after healing the gut. All systems of our body are so powerfully connected.


A common treatment for women during painful menses are NSAIDS (Non-Steroidal-Anti-Inflammatory-Drugs) such as; ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), aspirin and Aleve.

Unfortunately consistent use of NSAIDS (even a few days in a row once a month) has also shown to be quite damaging to the digestive tract. Common GI side effects are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and ulcers.


Cycle Tracking: Doing this can be helpful for understanding and being prepared for when you typically feel your worse. Are you constipated after ovulation? Do you have diarrhea 3 days before bleeding? Then make sure to strictly avoid your gut triggers during this time and keep your diet as clean as possible. Unsure of your specific gut triggers? Then this online group program is made for you: Calm Your Gut - pinpoint YOUR specific inflammatory tummy triggers & soothe digestive irritation.

Peppermint Oil capsules are shown to be affective for IBS and PMS (yay!): Try 187 mg per day during first 3 days of your period. Besides pain, peppermint oil has also shown to be helpful for nausea, diarrhea, bloating and gas (which NSAIDS do not).

*Check with your healthcare provider before trying any new supplements

Hot Water Bottle: Can help soothe inflammation in the pelvic region as well as gut.

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