Ask Nurse Jenny: What Happens To My Poop When I Don't Go?
I understand that before a woman's period the hormone progesterone has a quieting effect on smooth muscle contractility, and that gastrointestinal function usually slows to some degree. My question is what happens to the poop when that happens? Does it build up in the body and come out later? Does it get absorbed? I am very weight conscious and don't like the idea of waste sitting around in my body that I can't get rid of - even if it's normal.
The level of progesterone in a woman’s bloodstream drops during the first part of the fourth week of her menstrual cycle. It peaks around day twenty-one and then sharply declines, bottoming out at day twenty-seven, and remains at that level until after the first week of the next cycle. Its levels are exhibited in the thickness of the endometrium, as it makes the endometrium more vascular and glandular. This allows for the uterus to prepare for a fertilized egg by building up a nutrient-rich lining. When the egg is not fertilized, it becomes the corpus luteum, and its presence causes both estrogen and progesterone production to drop and the excess endometrial lining to slough off. Hence, Aunty Flow comes to town.
Progesterone also is credited for lessening uterine contractions. When a woman experiences PMS, she often is suffering from a lack of progesterone. One of the side effects of this is that she might become a bit constipated as the digestive track slows down a bit.
When poop stays around longer than usual, it is stored in the large intestine. The large intestine’s main job is to absorb water for our body. When poop doesn’t move, the large intestine just keeps on doing its job – absorbing water. This is what causes hard feces. Poop is not re-adsorbed into the body, though, because the molecules that compose it are too big to cross the large intestine’s membranes. It absorbs water and different medicines, but not the poop itself. So, set your imagination to rest; your poop is only drying out a bit while it hangs out in your colon, not sneaking its way back into your body.
On a final note, your last comment concerns me. Worrying about bodily functions, excretion, and how much fecal material is inside of the body is characteristic of anorexics and weight obsessive compulsives. If the fact that you haven’t pooped actually bothers you like you say it does, then you might benefit from some type of counseling.
Thanks for asking!
Please be advised that I am only a Poonurse. I am NOT a medical doctor. Any advice I give should be taken moderate skepticism. Please consult a REAL medical doctor if you feel you have a serious medical condition.
-- Nurse Jenny
Nurse Jenny is a registered dialysis technician who cleans blood for a living. She also has raised four beautiful children by herself. She knows poop and every other substance the body excretes.
Got a question for her?