If you’ve noticed your IBS symptoms worsen during your period, you’re not alone.

It’s quite common for women with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to observe their symptoms change at different points during their menstrual cycle. Experts have estimated half of women with IBS experience worse bowel symptoms during their period.

A 2014 article concluded the fluctuation of sex hormones during the menstrual cycle may evoke different responses for women with IBS compared to those without IBS.

However, doctors haven’t clearly defined the connection. More research is needed.

The hormones that are most involved in the menstrual cycle include:

  • estrogen
  • follicle-stimulating hormone
  • luteinizing hormone
  • progesterone

Receptor cells for female sex hormones reside throughout a woman’s gastrointestinal tract. A 2015 review concluded that hormone fluctuations (especially estrogen and progesterone) in women of reproductive age influence gastrointestinal (GI) function. This is particularly the case for those with IBS or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

For women who have IBS, their menstrual symptoms may be more frequent and worse. They can include:

Treating IBS symptoms during your period follows the same guidelines for treating your IBS symptoms at any other time. You can:

Also, stick with the medications your doctor recommends or has prescribed you. These may include:

Many women with IBS find that their symptoms worsen before or during their period. This isn’t unusual. In fact, it’s pretty common.

Be sure to stick with your prescribed treatment plan to manage your IBS symptoms. If you’re not getting relief, talk to your doctor about other options to manage your IBS symptoms during your period.