Bowel Urgency for Women – Understanding Cortisol’s Role in Morning


As women, our bodies are intricate ecosystems influenced by various factors, including hormones. One such hormone, cortisol, often plays a significant role in our daily routines, affecting everything from our energy levels to our mood.

Surprisingly, cortisol can also influence our bowel movements, especially those early morning urges that can disrupt our day or hold us up from leaving the safety of our home.

In this blog, I’ll delve into the connection between cortisol and morning bowel urgency, explore why it happens, and discuss natural approaches to managing it.

Understanding Cortisol and its Role:

Cortisol, often dubbed the “stress hormone,” is produced by the adrenal glands and plays a crucial role in our body’s response to stress.

It helps regulate metabolism, cholesterol production,  immune response, and even our sleep-wake cycle.

Cortisol levels typically peak in the early morning hours, helping us wake up feeling alert and ready to tackle the day.

However, this surge in cortisol can also stimulate bowel movements, leading to that urgent need to “go” shortly after waking up.

Why Morning Urgency Occurs:

Several factors contribute to the phenomenon of morning bowel urgency in women, with cortisol playing a central role. When cortisol levels rise in the morning, they can stimulate muscle contractions in the intestines, known as peristalsis.

This heightened activity can lead to the urge to have a bowel movement, sometimes even before we’ve had a chance to fully wake up.

Additionally, cortisol can increase the production of bile, a digestive fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Bile helps break down fats in the digestive process, but an excess of bile in the intestines can act as a laxative, further contributing to morning urgency.

Natural Approaches to Managing Morning Urgency:

While morning bowel urgency can be bothersome, there are a few natural approaches that can incorporate into our daily routines to help manage it:

Mindful Stress Reduction: Since cortisol is intricately linked to stress, incorporating stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga into your daily routine can help lower cortisol levels and mitigate its effects on bowel movements.

Balanced Diet: Eating a diet rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (brown rice but not gluten grains such as wheat, rye, barley or oats) can promote healthy digestion and regulate bowel movements. Avoiding trigger foods such as caffeine and high-fat or spicy foods, especially in the evening, can also help prevent morning urgency.

Hydration: Staying hydrated is essential for maintaining healthy bowel function. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help soften stools and make them easier to pass, reducing the likelihood of morning urgency.

Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity can help regulate cortisol levels and promote overall digestive health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week to support a healthy bowel routine.

Establishing a Routine: Try to establish a consistent morning routine that allows time for a relaxed bowel movement before starting your day. Waking up a bit earlier to give yourself time to respond to the urge can help reduce stress and discomfort.



Morning bowel urgency, influenced by cortisol levels, is a common experience for many women and if often under reported or not discussed.

By understanding the connection between cortisol and bowel movements and adopting natural approaches to managing it, potentially a person can avoid embarrassment or confusion about why it happens.

Understanding body hormones is crucial to any health plan and personal development. I strongly recommend everyone to measure their hormones.

You can measure your cortisol levels and other stress & sex hormones on saliva here (this is the most accurate way to measure stress hormones).

Remember to prioritize stress reduction, maintain a balanced diet, stay hydrated, engage in regular exercise, and establish a morning routine that supports healthy bowel habits. With these strategies in place, you can start your day feeling more comfortable and in control.