What causes female abdominal pain

Menstrual diarrhea

Many women experience severe abdominal cramps, a bloated stomach, and diarrhea during their period. But how does it come about that unpleasant diarrhea occurs more frequently during menstruation?

It is precisely this question that is increasingly preoccupying science. For example, a study by the Canadian University of Manitoba, which looked at the relationship between emotional and gastrointestinal symptoms in healthy women before and during menstruation, shows that 24% of women suffer from diarrhea before and 28% of women during their period.1

The reason for this could be an existing connection between hormones that are increasingly released in the female body before and during the period and the intestinal activity. These hormones are prostaglandins on the one hand and progesterone on the other. The former are "pain mediators" in the body and cause the typical abdominal cramps before and during menstruation, because they signal the uterus to loosen the mucous membrane.2

In the intestine, prostaglandins can increase the activity of the muscles. As a result, the chyme mixed with digestive fluid and enzymes is transported more quickly through the digestive tract. The result: abdominal pain and diarrhea. However, it is not yet fully known whether the prostaglandin is transported from the uterus to the neighboring intestine or whether the high concentration of the hormone in the body affects the intestine and its activity.1

The second hormone involved is progesterone. The corpus luteum hormone is released in the second half of the cycle and is responsible for preparing the uterus for a possible pregnancy. In contrast to the prostaglandins, a high concentration of progesterone in the body makes our intestines sluggish, which can lead to constipation. During the period, the concentration of progesterone drops again. This gets the digestion going again - which, in connection with the prostaglandins, can lead to diarrhea.

Help with diarrhea during your period


Especially during menstruation, diarrhea is stressful for many women in addition to unpleasant side effects such as abdominal pain, headache or muscle pain, fatigue, listlessness or food cravings. But don't worry: most of the side effects such as B. Abdominal cramps or headaches can help with a little rest, a hot water bottle on your stomach and a lot of drinking. Even with acute diarrhea during menstruation, care should be taken to ensure adequate fluid intake and the balance of electrolytes. In order to strengthen the weakened organism and counteract dehydration, experts recommend 1 therefore, in the first step of the diarrhea treatment, compensate for lost electrolytes and fluids. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a mixture that contains salts and glucose in a defined ratio.2 Such a mixture is e.g. B. Saltadol®. It is the only product in Germany whose composition corresponds to the current recommendations of the WHO. In addition to the important fluid and electrolyte balance, home remedies can stop diarrhea. These even have a great side effect: if a sweet variant, for example oat and banana porridge, is chosen, they also serve to curb cravings for sweets a little.


1. Bernstein M et al. Gastrointestinal symptoms before and during menses in healthy women. BMC women's health 14.1 (2014): 14.

2. Reavey J et al. Physiology of menstruation. Inherited Bleeding Disorders in Women (2019): 29-44.