Waking up without a cup of coffee is not a fun experience for a routine coffee enthusiast. It’s like starting the day off wrong, or on the wrong foot, as the old saying goes. Unfortunately, some of us coffee enthusiasts are also women. This means, for a large percentage of us, it’s important to not only think about how much we need that morning boost, but how that boost can affect women’s health. Yes, when I say women’s health I mean our reproductive systems and that visitor that comes to see us each month that most of us prefer not to speak of, our periods.
When a woman is on her period, change isn’t widely accepted. We aren’t thrilled about the process taking place inside our bodies, the cramps, the mess, the tenderness, and especially, the moods involved. The idea of taking away our coffee just seems beyond cruel. But can you drink coffee during your period? Is it better for your body to steer clear of your favorite beverage? Unfortunately, it seems that coffee can be a bit of an issue during the menstrual cycle, but not for everyone. It’s all according to how your body reacts. Let’s learn a bit more about coffee and its relationship with your period so you can decide whether you can continue enjoying your morning cup or back away for a week once a month.
Coffee and Dealing with PMS
Having a period is part of life for women. It may not be welcome, but it’s necessary. Before your period starts, however, it’s not uncommon for signs to emerge that tell you it’s on the way. While some ladies only suffer from tender breasts or an uncontrollable sweet tooth, others have it a bit rougher.
For those who have signs of their upcoming period that are harsher and interfere with their daily life, you’re suffering from PMS or premenstrual syndrome. PMS can make you feel tired, irritable, and bloated. It can even cause cramps and bad headaches. PMS runs that gauntlet and can affect women emotionally, physically, and behaviorally. No way around it, PMS sucks. But not every woman deals with it thanks to everyone’s body being different.
When it comes to the caffeine inside coffee and PMS, things aren’t exactly clear. A few studies have been done over the years, but not a lot lately. One study conducted in 2016 by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that coffee, or high caffeine intake, doesn’t adversely affect breast tenderness, fatigue, or irritability. This makes sense considering caffeine is a stimulant and often used by people to fight fatigue, which is why many women turn to it at the first signs of PMS to help them power through.
Coffee and Cramps
Cramps are one of the biggest issues when it comes to dealing with your period. For some reason, it isn’t uncommon to feel them the day or so before their period starts. Most, however, don’t feel the painful cramps until their time of the month truly sets in, making things even worse. When it comes to coffee’s effect on period cramps, things are really muddled. Studies have been conducted on this subject, but they have garnered mixed opinions.
Is there any proof that coffee makes your cramps worse? Turns out that caffeine does block a hormone that can make your blood vessels smaller. There are blood vessels in your uterus. Thus, it is possible that drinking coffee could make your cramps a bit worse thanks to the restricted blood flow.
Is there any proof that coffee can help your period cramps? No. Most of the studies that have been conducted claim there is no link between caffeine and cramps at all. This is why most people feel you should decide how your body reacts to caffeine on your own. If having a coffee seems to make your cramps more intense, step away from the coffee cup. If you don’t notice a change, then enjoy your morning cup of coffee.
Coffee and Your Flow
As we’ve already mentioned, studies on coffee and your period aren’t fresh off the presses. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be mentioned. Here’s what a few of those studies found when linking the caffeine in your coffee to your monthly flow.
In 2013, Clinical Epidemiology did a study of more than 2500 women. In this study, they noted that high caffeine intake appeared to be associated with shorter menstrual cycles, or less time in between your cycles. They also concluded that more caffeine may be associated with heavier blood flow.
The Journal of Taibah University Medical Sciences also conducted studies into caffeine and its effect on a woman’s period. Turns out, their studies showed those who had daily caffeine intake were more prone to longer periods that were infrequent.
Can You Manage Your Period?
You may be curious about whether you can manage your period, and the pains associated, on your own. While nothing may alleviate all the pains and discomforts, there are things you can do to make it more tolerable. Here are a few ideas from WebMD to help when that unwanted visitor shows up on your doorstep each month.
- Eat healthier foods like fruits, veggies, and whole grains
- Exercise at least 30 minutes per day
- Get plenty of calcium intake
- Avoid caffeine, salt, and alcohol
- Get plenty of rest
- Avoid smoking
- Try over-the-counter pain relievers
Final Thoughts on Coffee and Your Period
As you can see, most medical outlets feel that your caffeine intake should be limited when your period comes to town. While this advice is often told with the add-on of “know your body’s caffeine limits,” it still leaves women debating whether coffee is safe to drink while on their period or not.
If you’re a coffee lover and don’t feel as if you can do without your morning cup of joe, period or not, then, by all means, give it a shot. If you notice issues like heavier flow or more cramps back away from your intake. Like with anything concerning your period, do what makes you feel best so you can make it through such a yucky time of the month.
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