The Effects of Caffeine on a Woman's Menstrual Cycle

Replacing caffeine with water may help alleviate discomfort during your menstrual cycle.

Drinking caffeine may actually exacerbate uncomfortable symptoms of a woman's menstrual cycle. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, New York Times best-selling author and founder of Optimal Wellness Center in Illinois, caffeine consumption is linked to elevated estrogen levels, which increases the risk of developing breast and endometrial cancers. Mercola believes that while coffee does present certain health risks, caffeinated beverages like soda and fruit juice are far more detrimental to a woman's health. Eliminating or decreasing caffeine from your diet may be beneficial to your health and alleviate discomfort during your menstrual cycle.

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Increases Premenstrual Symptoms

Drinking caffeinated beverages is linked to an elevated frequency of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Women who consume large amounts of caffeine experience more symptoms than women who don't consume caffeine. PMS discomfort may include cramping, headaches, breast tenderness, bloating, mood swings, backaches, fatigue and irritability. All of these symptoms are likely to become more pronounced with caffeine consumption. Caffeine is a stimulant drug that increases blood pressure and heart rate. In an attempt to overcome PMS fatigue, women may even consume more caffeine in order to boost energy. Consequently, the increase of caffeine leads to tension, anxiety, trouble sleeping and amplified exhaustion.


Heightened Anxiety

Women should avoid caffeine especially around the time of menstruation because it restricts blood vessels and increases tension and anxiety. Caffeine heightens cortisol, norepinephrine and epinephrine, which are stress hormones that are responsible for elevating blood pressure and heart rate. When there's an increased level of these hormones in the body, the immune system is suppressed because of a reduction of the oxygen supply to the brain. This restricts the blood vessels and causes tension. Women are more sensitive to caffeine because the body's detoxification process takes more time in women than in men. The time it takes for the body to expel caffeine increases even more in women who are taking oral contraceptives and those who are pregnant.


Cramping and Breast Tenderness

Cramping is one of the most common symptoms a woman experiences before, during or after her menstrual cycle. Caffeine contributes to cramps because of its diuretic nature--it increases urine production and promotes dehydration. In addition, coffee contains oils that may inflame your intestines and cause cramping.

Fibrocystic breast syndrome is a condition that many women suffer before or during a menstrual period. Noncancerous lumps in the breasts that are filled with fluid can cause tenderness and swelling. Caffeine consumption has a considerable impact because during your menstrual cycle you already retain fluids and salt, so the fluid is more ample within the lumps of the breast during menses and can exacerbate breast tenderness.


Shortened or Irregular Cycles

Women who consume caffeine are more likely to have shortened menses, according to a study that was conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology on the effects of caffeine on a woman's menstrual function. The basis for this is that caffeine restricts blood vessels, reducing uterine blood flow. Consequently, this leads to a decrease in menstrual bleeding and a shortened cycle, resulting in the variability and irregularity of a woman's period.


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