Reducing period pains with better gut health

Volunteers are needed for a research project looking at whether the composition of the gut microbiome changes across the menstrual cycle.

L-R | Monash University’s Dr Nicole Kellow and Hudson Institute’s Dr Jemma Evans

Hudson Institute researchers with collaborators at Monash Uni aim to determine if these changes correlate with pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms or changed eating habits in the lead up to menstruation.

They will be assessing if taking a simple dietary supplement can improve PMS symptoms by encouraging the growth of good gut bacteria, thereby helping women feel better every month.

Understanding the gut microbiome

Researchers are only beginning to understand the importance of the gut microbiome, the ecosystem of bacteria in our digestive system, and its role in supporting good physical and mental health.

Up to 90 per cent of women experience physical and emotional changes across their menstrual cycle. The most common ones are mood changes, bloating and changes in bowel movements.

These physical and emotional changes can also be associated with an altered gut microbiome. However, currently we do not know if hormone and inflammatory changes across the menstrual cycle may alter the gut microbiome and underpin these physical and emotional changes.

What’s involved

Women who experience PMS symptoms will be asked to track their menstrual cycles, food intake, gastrointestinal function and mood for three months and provide stool samples at three times during the menstrual cycle.

After this time, participants will be placed into two different groups. Group One will be provided with a dietary supplement and Group Two with an inactive control supplement. Both groups will track their cycles and symptoms for three months, and stool samples will be collected again at the end of the study.

The outcomes of the trial by Dr Jemma Evans could help us to understand if alterations in the gut microbiome are associated with the group of menstrual symptoms that typically occur between ovulation and a period, which can be severe enough to interfere with work and social activities.

“This may be a unique way to help women feel well across the menstrual cycle, reach their optimal potential and live their best lives,” Dr Evans said.

Who should volunteer?

While the study is looking at minimising the symptoms of PMS, those who experience limited or no cycle-related symptoms are also encouraged to participate, in order to compare the gut bacteria of women with and without PMS symptoms.

Twenty Melbourne-based volunteers aged 18 years or over are sought for the trial. To register or to find out more, email: nicole.kellow@monash.edu

 

Research Group leading this work