What causes constipation during one’s period?

What you need to know:

  • Prostaglandins may also reduce the intestine’s rate of food absorption, which makes food pass through the big intestine faster, also causing diarrhoea.

Now that I am 23 years old, my periods are regular.  I can also tell that they are about to start since I usually suffer from diarrhoea until the period ends. However, lately, I just get constipated. Why? Annet

Dear Annet,

Just before and during a period, the womb produces local prostaglandins, which cause contractions that help the uterus shed its inner lining in what is seen as a period.

In the event that these prostaglandins leak into the rest of the body and reach the intestines, the intestines will also have contractions leading to pain and diarrhoea.

Prostaglandins may also reduce the intestine’s rate of food absorption, which makes food pass through the big intestine faster, also causing diarrhoea. A rise in progesterone culminating into periods, however, may slow down the intestines before and during the period, leading to constipation. 

Also, after ovulation, the female hormone oestrogen rises and is generally thought to be responsible for constipation before and during periods. Usually, women who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and endometriosis, are more prone to constipation during a period, and it is not, therefore, uncommon that women who have painful periods get constipated during their period. 

Eating foods rich in soluble fibre such as bananas, drinking a lot of fluids and going to the toilet when nature calls, can lessen constipation or diarrhoea during periods. 

If symptoms persist, please seek medical advice to rule out any other cause of your symptoms. If nothing is found, then taking medication that relieves menstrual symptoms could help.

Do supplements help boost one’s immunity?

Because of Covid-19, I have been told that taking supplements boosts immunity. Please tell me the right ones I should take. Anita

Dear Anita,

A balanced diet contains a variety of different types of food to provide adequate amounts of substances called nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, essential fat, fibre, vitamins, minerals and water) that are necessary for good health.

Vitamins (originally vial amines) are found in food and are called so because they are vital to one’s health although not all are amines. However, many such as Vitamins A, B6, C, D and E (From grains, lean meat, fish, polyunsaturated fats, water, fruits and vegetables, among others) are known to influence the immune system. These vitamins, apart from being vital in supporting reactions in the immune system, may act as powerful antioxidants that help the body to fight infections.

While supplements may fill the vitamin gaps in one’s diet, food is the best choice. However, in some countries, accessing fresh foods that contain the best vitamins is hard, hence the reliance on supplements to fill the gap. 

The body absorbs and uses vitamins from food better than those from supplements whose contents and amounts mostly depend on quantity, which may not be known. Vitamin supplements, especially A,C,D,E may actually poison one if taken in excess. 

Many people have been taking Vitamins, especially Vitamin C to boost their immunity against Covid-19 but the real effect may never be known since at the same time, many other foods have been consumed. To work best and boost ones’s immunity, Vitamins should always be taken as part of a balanced diet and not just when infections such as Covid-19 erupt. 

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