Why Do I Get Constipated Before My Period?

It is not uncommon to experience difficulty with bowel movements just before your period. Along with symptoms such as acne, food cravings, and mood swings, constipation as an addition can be a real nuisance. While constipation is not pleasant, it is not a cause for concern. Digestive problems before and during your period are totally normal. 

The two most important hormones in the female body, estrogen and progesterone not only determine when you ovulate and cause Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), but also affect how your digestive system works.

In this article, you will find out why you experience PMS constipation, how to relieve current and future constipation, and when you need to see your doctor.


Why does it happen?

For your menstrual cycle to occur normally, there must be adjustments in your body's estrogen and progesterone levels. Fluctuations in these hormones do not only lead to mood swings, food cravings, and acne, but they also have an effect on the way your digestive system works.

Causes of constipation before your period

As we've established above, changes in the levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body are the major cause of constipation before or during your period. However, experts aren't totally sure whether it's estrogen or progesterone that's responsible.

Some studies say that estrogen in particular is responsible for decreased bowel movement before a period. Other studies argue that progesterone is the culprit because just before your period, progesterone builds up in your body.

Some health conditions may also increase your risk of experiencing constipation before or during your period. If you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you are at a higher risk of experiencing constipation before or during your period because the symptoms worsen at that time. A condition called endometriosis also causes difficulty with bowel movements.

Symptoms of constipation before period

Symptoms of constipation include:

  • Hard and lumpy stools
  • Passing less than three stools in a week
  • Strain and pain before passing stools
  • Feeling as if there was a blockage in your rectum that prevents bowel movements
  • When you do pass stools, feeling like you’ve not completely passed out stools from your rectum
  • Having difficulty emptying your rectum, such as using your hands to press on your abdomen and removing stool using your finger

How to ease current constipation

Along with other premenstrual symptoms, constipation is not a pleasant thing to have to deal with. Luckily, there are a number of ways to help you relieve the symptoms:

  • Drink more water
  • Eat foods containing fibre
  • Don't ignore your urge to use the bathroom
  • Engage in exercise and physical activity
  • Try a mild laxative

How to prevent future constipation

Here are some ways you can prevent constipation before your subsequent periods:

  • Stay hydrated - whether your period is close or not, make it a habit to drink lots of water. Water helps the digestive system function optimally, and increases movement in your gastrointestinal tract
  • Avoid drinks that contain caffeine and alcohol before and during your period - these are called diuretics. They dehydrate your body, making constipation very likely 
  • Consider oral hormonal birth control - if your hormones are consistently irregular, your healthcare provider might recommend hormonal birth control
  • Avoid foods that trigger constipation - this includes highly processed foods, as well as foods high in fats, starch and sugar. Try to eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains


Most cases of constipation can be managed at home, with the methods listed above.

  • Medication review- depending on the severity of your constipation, your doctor will review your medications and supplements if you take any. This is because some of these products can cause constipation. If they do, your doctor may change your dose, switch you to another drug, or stop you from taking the supplement. You should not stop taking your medications or supplements without consulting your doctor first
  • Prescription medications- There are a few prescription drugs available to treat constipation. If necessary, your healthcare provider will select the drug that will work best for you

When to seek medical attention

Your bowel movements should return to normal soon after your period starts. However, if your constipation affects your daily life and lasts longer than three days, speak with your healthcare provider to find out what the problem is.

You should also seek medical attention if you experience:

  • Blood in your stool
  • Constant digestive issues
  • A throbbing pain in your upper legs and pelvis
  • Lower back pain
  • Heavy bleeding during your period
  • Nausea and vomiting during your period

Some of these symptoms may be a sign of an underlying issue, such as IBS or endometriosis.


Constipation before your period is not a cause for alarm. After their period starts, most people notice their symptoms improve. Making healthy eating a lifestyle, staying hydrated, and engaging in regular exercise can go a long way in preventing and managing constipation.


  1. Oh JE, Kim YW, Park SY, Kim JY. Estrogen rather than progesterone cause constipation in both female and male mice. Korean J Physiol Pharmacol [Internet]. 2013 Oct [cited 2023 Feb 3];17(5):423–6. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3823955/ 
  1. Pati GK, Kar C, Narayan J, Uthansingh K, Behera M, Sahu MK, et al. Irritable bowel syndrome and the menstrual cycle. Cureus [Internet]. [cited 2023 Feb 3];13(1):e12692. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7883586/ 
  1. Wald A, Van Thiel DH, Hoechstetter L, Gavaler JS, Egler KM, Verm R, et al. Gastrointestinal transit: the effect of the menstrual cycle. Gastroenterology. 1981 Jun;80(6):1497–500. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7227774/ 
  1. Ek M, Roth B, Ekström P, Valentin L, Bengtsson M, Ohlsson B. Gastrointestinal symptoms among endometriosis patients—A case-cohort study. BMC Womens Health [Internet]. 2015 Aug 13 [cited 2023 Feb 3];15:59. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4535676/ 
  1. ALQUDAH M, AL-SHBOUL O, AL-DWAIRI A, AL-U’DAT DG, ALQUDAH A. Progesterone inhibitory role on gastrointestinal motility. Physiol Res [Internet]. 2022 Mar 28 [cited 2023 Feb 3];71(2):193–8. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9150547/ 
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Godswill Samson

BSc, Pharmacology, University of Lagos, Nigeria

Godswill is a budding health writer with a passion for health and wellness. She combines this with her writing skill to educate the public on ways to live fuller and healthier lives.

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