Laxatives And Periods: Safe Or Not?

can I take a laxative on my period

Constipation is a common side effect of menstruation, caused by hormonal changes affecting the uterus and gastrointestinal tract. While it's usually nothing to worry about, it can be uncomfortable. If you're experiencing constipation during your period, you may be wondering if it's safe to take a laxative. The answer is yes, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, it's important to consult your doctor before taking any laxatives, especially if you're taking medication or have any health conditions. Laxatives can interact with certain medications and may not be suitable for those with bowel obstructions or chronic kidney or heart disease. Secondly, laxatives should only be used as a short-term solution and shouldn't be taken daily, as they can be habit-forming and may lead to worsening constipation over time. Finally, it's recommended to try natural remedies first, such as increasing your fibre and water intake and exercising regularly, as this may be enough to relieve your constipation without resorting to laxatives.

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Should you take a laxative on your period? It is generally recommended to try other methods to relieve constipation, such as increasing fibre and water intake, exercising, and taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. However, if these methods do not work, a laxative may be taken, but it is advised to consult a doctor first.
When to see a doctor If constipation is paired with severe symptoms such as intense pain, blood in the stool, or lasts for more than three days.


Laxatives can be habit-forming and cause colon issues

Laxatives are medicines that help treat constipation by softening hard stools or stimulating the bowels to move. They are typically available without a prescription and can be purchased over the counter at pharmacies, grocery stores, and online. While laxatives can be effective in providing short-term relief for constipation, they can also be habit-forming and have side effects, especially if used too frequently or for extended periods.

Stimulant laxatives, for instance, can activate the nerves controlling the muscles in the colon, forcing it to move the stool along. However, overuse of stimulant laxatives can lead to a loss of muscle tone in the colon, impairing its ability to function normally and potentially worsening constipation. This can result in a vicious cycle where an individual becomes dependent on laxatives to have a bowel movement.

Additionally, laxatives that pull water from the body to soften stools, such as bulk-forming laxatives and osmotics, can cause dehydration if not properly managed. It is crucial to follow the instructions on the medication and supplement with adequate fluid intake to prevent dehydration.

Furthermore, laxative overuse can lead to complications such as electrolyte imbalance, chronic constipation, and intestinal blockage. These issues can sometimes require medical attention or even a visit to the emergency room. Therefore, it is essential to use laxatives as directed and not exceed the recommended dosage. If constipation persists or becomes a chronic issue, it is advisable to consult a healthcare provider for guidance and alternative treatment options.

In summary, while laxatives can provide relief for constipation, they should be used with caution due to their potential habit-forming nature and associated side effects. It is important to prioritize lifestyle changes, such as increasing fiber and fluid intake, and engaging in physical activity, to address constipation before resorting to laxatives.

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Consult a doctor before taking a laxative

While laxatives can be purchased over the counter and are widely used to treat constipation, it is always a good idea to consult a doctor before taking them. This is because there are different types of laxatives, and a doctor can advise you on the best treatment strategy for your specific needs. For instance, your doctor may recommend a stool softener or a specific type of laxative depending on your symptoms.

Additionally, laxatives may not be suitable for everyone, and consulting a doctor beforehand can help you avoid any potential side effects or interactions with other medications you may be taking. For example, some laxatives can cause abdominal cramping, and long-term use of stimulant laxatives is not recommended as it can lead to dehydration and worsening constipation. Consulting a doctor is especially important if you have severe cramping or any blood in your stool, as these could be signs of a more serious underlying problem.

Furthermore, if you are experiencing constipation, it may be a symptom of an underlying health condition. Consulting a doctor can help identify and address any potential health issues. For instance, constipation may be caused by underlying conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or endometriosis. In rare cases, constipation can be a sign of a severe health condition such as diverticulosis, colon stricture, or colon cancer.

Finally, consulting a doctor can provide reassurance and advice on managing constipation and related symptoms. They can recommend dietary and lifestyle changes, such as increasing fibre and water intake and getting regular physical activity, which can help prevent and treat constipation. In some cases, they may also prescribe medication to reduce constipation if lifestyle changes are not effective.

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Avoid laxatives if you have kidney or heart disease

Laxatives are usually taken to treat constipation and to clean the bowel before a colonoscopy. While laxatives are generally safe for people without kidney problems, they can be dangerous for those with kidney disease. This is because people with kidney disease are often on other medications that can cause constipation, and taking a laxative on top of this can lead to dehydration, which can further damage the kidneys by decreasing blood flow to them.

If you have kidney disease and are experiencing constipation, it is important to speak to your doctor about safe treatment options. Some laxatives may be beneficial for improving bowel habits, but it is crucial to keep well hydrated by drinking plenty of water and clear liquids if you are taking them. Overusing laxatives can also sometimes cause kidney stones, so it is important to check with your healthcare provider to make sure they are safe for you if you need to take them multiple times a week.

Additionally, it is important to be cautious when taking over-the-counter medications if you have kidney disease, as many common pain medications, antibiotics, acid suppressants, and herbal supplements can also affect kidney function. It is always best to consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medication, including laxatives, to ensure that it is safe for you.

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Avoid laxatives if you're travelling

Laxatives can be a helpful short-term solution to constipation, but it's important to be cautious when taking them, especially when travelling. Here are some reasons why it's best to avoid laxatives when travelling:

Diet and Routine Changes

Travel often involves changes in diet and daily routine, which can impact your gut health and cause constipation. Adapting to new foods, sleep patterns, and environments can disrupt your bowel movements. Indulging in local delicacies or high-fat, processed foods can contribute to constipation, especially if they are low in fibre. Maintaining a consistent eating schedule and prioritising fibre-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lentils, can help prevent travel-related constipation.


Dehydration is another common cause of constipation when travelling. Changes in climate, altitude, or activity levels can lead to dehydration, making it harder for waste to move through your intestines. Drinking plenty of water is essential to staying hydrated and promoting regular bowel movements. Alcohol and caffeine should be limited as they can contribute to dehydration.

Lack of Movement

The sedentary nature of travel, such as sitting for long periods during flights or car trips, can also lead to constipation. Incorporating physical activity during travel, such as walking during long airport waits or exploring your destination, can help stimulate your intestines and regulate bowel movements.

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety associated with travelling to a new place or experiencing new adventures can also impact your gut health and contribute to constipation. Sticking to a normal schedule and routine as much as possible can help reduce stress levels and minimise the risk of constipation.

Medication and Chronic Conditions

Changes in medication routines due to time zone differences or altered sleep patterns can also lead to constipation. Additionally, certain medications, such as antacids or opioids, can cause dehydration and further contribute to constipation. If you have underlying chronic conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), consult your healthcare provider before travelling to discuss any necessary adjustments to your medication or additional precautions.

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Try natural remedies before taking a laxative

Before taking a laxative, there are some natural remedies that may help relieve constipation.

Firstly, drinking more water and staying hydrated can help prevent constipation. Carbonated water may be even more effective than regular water at relieving constipation. However, carbonated drinks such as sugary sodas can have harmful health effects and may worsen constipation.

Secondly, increasing your dietary fibre intake can help treat constipation. Soluble fibres, found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and some fruits and vegetables, absorb water and form a gel-like paste, softening stools and improving their consistency. Insoluble fibres, found in wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains, add bulk to stools, helping them pass more quickly and easily through the digestive system.

Thirdly, exercise may help relieve constipation. A 2019 review of existing research suggests that low-intensity exercise, such as taking a brisk walk, can be an effective treatment for constipation.

Other natural remedies for constipation include drinking coffee, taking herbal laxatives such as senna, consuming probiotic foods or supplements, and trying a low FODMAP diet.

In addition to these general remedies for constipation, there are also some natural ways to induce a period. However, it is important to note that there is limited research on the effectiveness of these methods, and they are not guaranteed to work.

Some natural remedies to induce a period include:

  • Modifying your exercise routine
  • Taking steps to relieve stress
  • Consuming certain fruits and vegetables, such as pineapple, ginger, turmeric, and foods rich in vitamin C
  • Having an orgasm
  • Applying heat to relax tense abdominal muscles and increase blood flow to the area
  • Consuming herbal supplements or tea, such as black cohosh, dong quai, or parsley (but only if you are not pregnant or nursing)
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