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IBS, Periods, and Hormonal Issues

We all know that hormones can affect IBS. In the past, pregnancy has largely impacted my symptoms, and so do my periods. I’ve also talked with community members whose IBS worsened during menopause.

But that's not all. For me, hormonal issues and IBS tend to be very connected with one another as well.

Hormonal acne and seborrheic dermatitis

I’ve never had perfect skin. And yet, my biggest flares of acne and seborrheic dermatitis have always been around my period. It’s well known that IBS symptoms can get worse during periods, too, so this never really surprised me.

However, I noticed during my 2 pregnancies that whenever a change in hormones would trigger hormonal breakouts and a flare of my seborrheic dermatitis, this would always correlate with an increase in IBS symptoms as well. Thus, I looked almost as terrible as I felt at the beginning of my pregnancies. Then, when the one calmed down, the other would, too.

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The same thing happened in the postpartum period. My seborrheic dermatitis got very bad each time, and so did my IBS-D. I found it interesting to see that my skin and digestive tract seem to flare at the same time when my hormones are changing.


Just like breakouts, headaches are often caused by hormones in my case. Or by stress, obviously. But that’s a story for another day. When I was on birth control, I got terrible headaches before, during, and after my period. Similarly, that’s when my IBS would act up, too. It wasn’t always actual flares, but rather a more sensitive, uncomfortable feeling in my digestive system.

Now that I’m not on birth control anymore, my headaches have improved significantly though. As of now, I no longer see a strong correlation to my hormonal levels.

Irregular periods

The only downside of not being on birth control while also being postpartum and still breastfeeding is that my periods tend to be highly irregular. The funny (or, actually, not so funny) thing is that the more irregular my periods are, the worse my PMS, anxiety, and IBS get. Whenever I go through a time of extreme anxiety and digestive discomfort for no apparent reason, I always check the period tracker app on my phone and it very often coincides with a missed or delayed period.

PMS and period symptoms

Speaking of bad period symptoms: the more my period is delayed, the more I suffer when it finally comes. From headaches and fatigue to diarrhea and discomfort: the intensity of all these symptoms increases when my hormones feel messed up. If my period comes on time though, my symptoms (both hormonal and IBS) tend to be rather minimal.

Cramps and pains

Similarly to the PMS and period symptoms, the intensity of cramps and pains during my period largely depends on its regularity. However, I’ve also noticed that IBS cramping in general is far more common for me during or around my period.

Normally, I mostly just feel discomfort during an IBS-D flare. But add in the hormones and this discomfort morphs into full-blown cramps. I suppose that it might have something to do with the uterus contracting. But still, the cramps are always correlated to bowel movements and do not just appear randomly throughout the day.

Have you ever noticed a correlation between your IBS and hormonal issues? If yes, how do you cope?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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