Are you here because you’re looking for PMS relief? Or maybe you want an excuse to drink more coffee. No judgement LOL. If you’re here for the later then check out this post to combine coffee and naps for max energy. A free cheat sheet is included.
Anyway, I know you don’t want yet another post telling you what to do with your body and shaming you for either choice. I’m not here to push in either direction when it comes to caffeine, but I will give you some info on both sides.
I believe in women getting information without the fluff and making informed decisions for the benefit of their own bodies. Can I get a heck yeah?!
This post will tell you why caffeine is used in some PMS medications and then what some cons are of caffeine on the menstrual cycle. Sound good?
A menstrual cycle review
The menstrual cycle is broken down into four phases. Menstrual, Ovulation, Follicular, Luteal.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) starts during the luteal phase and beings to resolve during the first few days of your period a.k.a. the menstrual phase.
PMS is a collection of physical and emotional symptoms and it appears differently in each woman.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists report that about 85% of women experience at least one PMS symptom.
Many stewards of natural health will argue that these PMS symptoms such as irritability, painful cramps, headache, bloating, etc are due to possible hormonal imbalance and treatment should begin with balancing the hormones.
Whether you choose to seek comfort with your caffeinated buddy of choice or opt for a more natural route, the decision can leave you uncomfortable, confused, and conflicted. Let’s change that.
Do you know what you’re taking?
When you buy a bottle of headache medication from the pharmacy, are you paying attention?
How often do you flip over the box of medication and read what’s in it? Typically on the side or back of the package are the “Drug Facts” so look for it.
It will be a list of active ingredients in the medication with a dotted line leading to what the purpose is.
Make sure you get familiar with what you’re taking and do research to see how it may be affecting you and your cycle.
You’re probably more likely to see what the medication treats and how it can help you before you look into the actual ingredients and how they work in your body.
But PMS though
I get it, I mean let’s keep it real it’s kinda hard to focus on the science of it all when you’re head is pounding, you can’t button your pants due to the bloating aaaannnnd you have a meeting at work in an hour. Yep, been there mama!
I feel you. I got a monthly headache that was dang near debilitating and it was the only time I would drink coffee. I eventually made some nutrition and lifestyle changes to ward off the headaches. I picked up the coffee habit for a while after returning to work from maternity leave and later stopped again.
Pros and cons of caffeine for PMS relief
The Caffeinated Pros :
What is caffeine thought to do and how?
Did you know that caffeine is not only a stimulant, but is also an FDA approved non prescription diuretic? It’s also found in multiple headache medications. Why? I’m so glad you asked.
Excuse me while I put on my Pharmacist hat.
So, the blood vessels tend to enlarge before you get a headache and caffeine has the opposite effect. It causes the blood vessels to constrict thereby preventing or treating the headache.
So knowing that caffeine is a stimulant, diuretic and used for headaches you can see how it can be seen as a “pro” to treats PMS symptoms of fatigue, bloating and headache.
A few example over the counter medications containing caffeine include Excedrin, Midol Complete and their generic versions.
Back to hormones and natural alternatives
Remember that hormone changes are what’s driving these conditions. The medication will help you put a band aid on it, but the symptoms are going to return the following month.
See this post on natural ways to treat bloating and headache.
As for fatigue, being tired during this phase is normal, but it’s tough when you have to show up to work and make the magic happen. I get it.
See if you can schedule in extra fluids, breaks and rest during this time. It will help you rejuvenate and also helps the medication to work better should you need it.
Exercise helps with each symptom as well. Don’t feel like exercising? Try some yoga for restorative movement for exercise that’s less taxing. That way you can still challenge the body without exertion all while stilling the mind.
The Caffeinated Cons :
What negative effects on the menstrual cycle are being studied?
There are studies that show that reducing or even eliminating caffeine altogether especially during the luteal phase can ease the symptoms of PMS.
Remember PMS is not just about the physical, it also can include some emotional factors as well. This could include anxiety and irritability, both of which can be heightened with our sassy stimulating caffeine.
Caffeine was also shown to disrupt sleep making fatigue worse, lead to less fluid intake and eventually dehydration with it being a diuretic.
Caffeine’s affect on hormones
Another con to note is that caffeine competes with an important enzyme that both metabolizes coffee and rids the body of excess estrogen.
If the caffeine wins and hogs the enzyme then you’re stuck with extra estrogen leading to more PMS symptoms and hormonal imbalances.
Which leads you to reach back for the caffeine treatment which leads to more PMS symptoms. Do you see the cycle? No pun intended.
Excess estrogen can actually lead to cysts and fibroids which can cause painful periods as well.
Put your health first
You can look into the signs of hormonal imbalance and see if it applies to you and decide whether or not a caffeine jolt is a convenient fix or not for you.
Share your knowledge
What are your thoughts on caffeine and PMS relief? Did you know caffeine was in common headache and PMS meds?
Do the research to see if your hormones are balanced because you don’t want caffeine to negatively affect you.
Okay, so now you have some information to start thinking about the role caffeine currently plays or could play in your PMS relief. You get to make the decision in managing your own health. Look at you go!
Healthcare for painful periods
You shouldn’t be doubled over in pain from your period or PMS. If this is you, then make sure you are following up with a healthcare provider that respects and understands the menstrual cycle enough to help you correct it.
Points to remember
Again, the medications listed on this post treat the symptoms, not the root cause.
Remember to flip the package over and check to verify the amount of caffeine in each dose. It’s like the tricky serving sizes on nutrition labels of the best snacks.
For example, they may give you the amount in one pill but the actual dose may be two so your caffeine content doubles! Be aware of how much you’re taking and what the maximum daily dose is.
More natural treatments
- Hormone balance through nutrition
- Regular exercise
- Stress management
- Overall wellness
- Healthy nutrition in general
I want you to have a few nuggets of knowledge in your back pocket as you weigh your options.
I hope this post took you from confused to informed and on the road to feeling better whether naturally or with a kick.
If you found this post valuable, please share it and let’s help some other mamas.