Hello, Hormones: My IBS Is On A Cycle
Last updated: September 2021
Maybe I’ve never paid attention to my cycle before having a child. Maybe it all changed after birth. All I know is that my IBS is now on a cycle, and it’s unlike anything I experienced before. Ever since I became a mom, I can distinguish between my pre-ovulation weeks and those after ovulation. And strangely enough, those stages of my cycle seem to affect my IBS symptoms more than I ever thought possible.
A long-term effect of pregnancy?
I’ve had IBS for years. Why did I never notice that it was impacted by my cycle? Or is this something that only started happening after I became a mom?
Sure, I was always aware that periods made my IBS-D symptoms stronger. But I never noticed my flares fluctuating throughout the month.
Then again, how could I have? I had been on birth control for so long. Then, as my partner and I were trying to conceive, I was constantly missing my ovulation because my cycles are so irregular. How could I possibly notice a correlation between my cycle and IBS symptoms?
An internal clock
Things are very different now. Without any ovulation test, I am perfectly able to tell whether I’m in my fertile days or not. I’m also pretty sure that I now experience ovulation pain.
And with this, I’ve been able to track how my IBS behaves throughout my cycle.
Fertile days = flare-up days
Yup. My IBS now loves to flare up during my fertile window. I don’t know how this is even conceivable from an evolutionary point of view. But that’s the way it is, and trying for our second baby in the future will be so much fun.
Generally speaking, the whole fertile phase of my cycle is a rather uncomfortable one. Even if I’m not having an actual flare, I’m still tired and don’t feel too well. And if I make the slightest mistake in my food choices, I have to pay for it.
Leading up to ovulation, it only gets worse. Then, I often have a really bad day before the whole IBS drama slowly fades away.
Infertile days = happy days
Once my body has recovered from the shock of potentially being able to create a new human, it gets so much better. In the weeks leading up to my period, I still get symptoms but I don’t feel nearly as bad.
I can eat without regretting it immediately afterward. I can leave the house more easily. My energy levels are higher, and IBS doesn’t dominate my life as much.
IBS and periods are the best of friends
Whenever I read an article about IBS and menstrual cycles, it always seems to revolve around increased symptoms during a woman’s period. Similarly, I distinctly remember dreading my periods pre-pregnancy because I knew that it meant more frequent and stronger flares.
Now, this correlation is even worse. Oftentimes, I have terrible, never-ending flare-ups that truly break me. Maybe the period cramps are worsening the digestive symptoms?
Having read multiple articles about this topic, it seems that most women with IBS experience an increase in IBS symptoms around and during their period. So, it’s normal that I get my worst flares during this time.
However, I still don’t understand why the illness gets worse during fertile days. It doesn’t make sense from an evolutionary perspective, considering that it’s much harder to conceive when you’re miserable. But then again, chronic illnesses, in general, don’t make much sense in that way.
Which of the following symptoms of IBS do you experience most frequently?