Bloating, Constipation, Estrogen, Functional Lab Testing, Hormones, Inflammation, Natural Remedies, PMS, SIBO, Stress

The Impact of IBS and SIBO on Periods and Hormones

Many of my clients who have period problems also suffer from gut issues. These gut issues tend to increase in severity in the second half of the cycle. Is this something you deal with each month? If so, keep reading.

In this article, we’ll delve into the cool connection between two gut-related conditions – Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) – and how they can influence our menstrual cycles and hormones. Understanding these interactions can help you feel better during the luteal phase (second half) of your cycle.

First, let’s define terms (keeping in mind that I am not a doctor and do not diagnose, treat, or prescribe. This post is purely informational!)

  1. What is IBS?

IBS is a common functional gut disorder that affects how the intestines work. It can cause discomfort and varying symptoms, such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, or constipation. Many people experience IBS symptoms during their menstrual cycles, which may be linked to the fluctuations in hormones during this time.

  1. Unraveling SIBO

SIBO occurs when there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, where they don’t belong. Normally, these bacteria should reside in the large intestine, but when they migrate, they can disrupt digestion and nutrient absorption. SIBO’s presence can exacerbate IBS symptoms and lead to further digestive complications. Wondering about your own gut and whether or not you have bacteria in your small intestine? Book a mini GI Map package here!

  1. The Intricate Hormonal Dance

Our hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone, play a crucial role in our menstrual cycles. Throughout the month, these hormones take turns leading the show, orchestrating the changes in our bodies. This hormonal dance can also influence our gut health and digestive processes. In the first half of your cycle- the follicular phase- estrogen tends to surge, getting your body ready for ovulation. In the second half of your cycle- the luteal phase- progesterone should be pumping out. This gets your body ready for a healthy pregnancy or period. When stress, infections, poor diet, or lack of sleep throw off your hormones, gut chaos can ensue.

  1. Estrogen and Gut Sensitivity

As estrogen levels rise, some individuals may notice increased gut sensitivity. This means that their digestive system becomes more reactive, causing abdominal discomfort, bloating, and changes in bowel habits. This heightened sensitivity during menstruation can worsen IBS symptoms, making the experience less pleasant.

  1. Progesterone’s Effect on Digestion

During the second half of the menstrual cycle, progesterone takes the lead. Progesterone can have a slight slowing effect on the gut, causing food to move through the digestive system more slowly. This can lead to constipation or a feeling of heaviness in the abdomen for some individuals.

  1. SIBO and Menstruation

SIBO and menstruation also share a connection. During menstruation, the immune system may be slightly suppressed, creating a favorable environment for bacteria to grow in the small intestine. This can exacerbate SIBO symptoms or trigger its development.

  1. Navigating Towards Balance

Although the interactions between IBS, SIBO, and hormones can seem complex, there are steps we can take to promote gut health and hormone balance:

a) Mindful Eating: Emphasize a diet that focuses on healthy animal protein, sufficient vegetables, and good fats. Include fermented foods like yogurt or kefir, as they contain beneficial bacteria that can support gut health. Note: some people with SIBO can’t tolerate fermented foods as the bacteria in the gut increase fermentation, leading to bloating, gas, and pain. Test to find out more. 

b) Stress Management: Practice relaxation techniques such as breath work, epsom salt baths, and outside time to reduce stress, which can positively impact both IBS and hormonal fluctuations.

c) Regular Exercise: Walk and lift weights, as these things can help promote healthy digestion and hormone regulation. Stop doing heavy cardio and HIIT sessions, as these can throw off the delicate balance of your hormones, leading to further gut dysfunction. 

d) Consult a Healthcare Professional: If you experience persistent gut issues or hormonal imbalances, seek guidance from a healthcare provider. They can help identify the underlying causes and develop a personalized treatment plan. I’ve got you covered here!

The relationship between IBS, SIBO, and hormones affects so many of my girls, especially during menstruation. But by understanding how these elements interact, we can make informed choices to support our digestive health and overall well-being.  Start with the steps above to start regulating your digestion and your hormones within the timeframe of your next cycle.

To your period health,


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