Does the promise of a steamy cup of coffee get you excited for the next morning of work and errands? Or do you like an iced sweet tea as a treat as an afternoon pick-me-up? That jolt of caffeine may help keep your mind and body sharp as you push through the last few classes and projects of the day, even when a nap starts calling your name. But then, when your period comes, you may hesitate before you pour a cuppa...
We are sure you may have heard a few of those rumors painting caffeine as the villain of our poor, defenseless periods. Caffeine is seen as fuel to the fire that is period pain and the menace to our already vulnerable and anxious minds. Is caffeine merely an innocent bystander being framed, or could it truly be the culprit of those rough PMS days?
The short answer is - maybe.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists currently recommends that those experiencing PMS should limit their consumption of caffeine. We looked at a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that researched whether there was enough evidence to support this guidance. This study came to the conclusion that there was not enough evidence to support that reducing caffeine intake would help prevent the progression of PMS. Shocker, right?!
Per the Cleveland Clinic, overuse of caffeine has been known to cause a number of negative effects on the brain as well as the body, including:
- Sleeping problems
- Heart palpitations
- Gastrointestinal distress
Interestingly, many of the symptoms of PMS mirror the symptoms of overdoing it on caffeine, including irritability, headaches, and diarrhea. PMS can also cause increased anxiety, which can exacerbate caffeine-induced heart palpitations and sleep problems. If you already experience these symptoms when you are only drinking coffee or only experiencing PMS, these side effects could be intensified when coupled together. So it makes sense that even if there is some indecision in the scientific community as to whether caffeine really does affect periods, it is safe to say that the symptoms caused by each certainly go hand-in-hand.
Don’t throw out that bag of dark roast just yet! While caffeine does have its health woes, it also has some health “Hello!”s. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted a study in 2016 that showed caffeine could have a positive effect on the menstrual cycle. This study found that the function of the menstrual cycle may be improved with caffeine consumption as it is connected with preventing missed ovulation (referred to as anovulation). It can also have positive effects such as increased concentration, alertness, and the joy that a mug of your favorite beverage brings.
It’s important to remember to moderate how much caffeine you are taking in. The Cleveland Clinic defines a moderate amount of caffeine to ingest per day as about 250 milligrams or about 3 cups of coffee. That is if those cups of coffee are about 8 ounces - so sorry, your Venti triple shot does not count as one cup of coffee. ;)
So, when you go to reach for your menstrual cup or disc or slip into your favorite pair of Saalt Wear period underwear on the morning of your period, should you also be reaching for a caffeine boost? That is up to you! Each person’s body and period are unique, and some may feel the impact of caffeine more than others. Listen to your body and whether you go fully caffeinated, half-caf, or decaf, you can operate at your best during your period.