Attention all coffeeholics!
That daily cup of coffee, or three could be affecting your monthly cycle.
We’ve done some research and have found that the high levels of caffeine found in coffee could be causing menstrual disturbances and making your period worse – eek!
According to a 2014 study, women who drank coffee were more likely to have longer and infrequent periods.
In a 2013 study, higher caffeine intake was linked to heavier menstrual bleeding and shorter menstrual cycles (meaning less time in between periods). Coffee has been found to increase estrogen levels, whereby high estrogen levels can lead to heavier flows and increase the occurrence of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms.
In line with this, several research studies have found an association between caffeine consumption and an increase in both the prevalence and severity of PMS symptoms, specifically period cramps! Coffee is a vasoconstrictor, which means that it tightens and narrows blood vessels – including the ones that lead to your uterus – restricting blood flow and oxygen supply to your uterine muscles. Muscles require oxygen to function, and so when oxygen supply is decreased, they trigger sensations of pain in the form of period cramps. Caffeine contributes to the tightening of your uterus and resultantly worsens period cramps. Coffee is also inflammatory and can lead to bloating, discomfort and abdominal pain, further increasing the prominence of period cramps and pains.
Whether this research is giving you an “aha!” moment or causing you to totally freak out about functioning without your regular cup – we are here to reassure you that everything is okay in moderation.
We recommend firstly trying to switch out coffee for tea or matcha. Both drinks contain less caffeine and also contain beneficial anti-inflammatory properties. You can also keep a journal in order to keep track of how you feel before and after drinking coffee, specifically during your time of the month.
So to sum it all up, experts say that avoiding or limiting coffee on your period can help relieve PMS symptoms and cramps. However, it is important to note that research is also not entirely conclusive. In fact, there are alternative studies that have found 0 associations between coffee intake and worsened periods and PMS.
ALL bodies are unique and handle caffeine differently. Listen to your body and adjust your caffeine intake to best suit your flow.