But first, coffee.
If you’re a caffeine junkie, you may be wondering if that habit has any effect on your hormonal balance. The answer is a little more complicated than a one-word answer though. While studies have found an association between caffeine intake and changing hormonal levels, there is no proof that caffeine causes changes in hormones.
What does that mean? In short, caffeine may have an indirect effect on your period or menopause symptoms. Keep in mind that everyone’s reaction is slightly different though. If you’re concerned with any symptoms we mention below, schedule an appointment with your doctor. You can also try eliminating it from your diet for a few weeks and see if anything changes. And yes, this is easier said than done.
How does caffeine affect estrogen levels?
The answer to this question is quite complicated according to the study conducted around it. Here’s what we mean.
- For Asian women, higher caffeine intake was associated with higher estrogen levels.
- For white women, higher caffeine intake was associated with lower estrogen levels.
- For Black women, there was a slight rise in estrogen levels, but it wasn’t statistically significant.
In other words, this study found that the effects of caffeine consumption varied among racial groups. If you’re concerned your caffeine consumption could be negatively impacting your estrogen levels, chat with your healthcare professional.
As far as progesterone levels are concerned, a direct association between them and caffeine has not been found. It should be noted that estrogen levels being affected will alter the estrogen/progesterone ratio though.
How much caffeine is too much?
This is also a loaded question with a complex answer. The daily recommended limit for adults is 400mg, which is roughly four cups of coffee. Let’s be clear though, that’s the limit, not the recommended intake. What does that mean? In short, it is not recommended for adults to consume more than four cups of coffee per day.
It should be noted that coffee is not the only source of caffeine. You’ll find it in teas, energy drinks, chocolate, coffee-flavored foods, etc. You’ll also need to keep in mind that caffeine affects everyone differently. Four cups of coffee may be an extreme overload for one person while being the perfect amount for another. When considering a caffeinated beverage or food item, consider the milligram content of caffeine in it versus the number of cups you’ll be consuming.
How caffeine impacts period symptoms
Even if caffeine consumption doesn’t affect your hormone levels too much, it can cause other unwanted symptoms around your menstrual cycle. There are six side effects we think you should know about before you pile on extra caffeine to push through fatigue.
- It can hinder your sleep. Even if you try to limit coffee or other caffeinated beverages before bed this can still be true. Why? Caffeine has a half-life of around five hours. This means five hours after your last cup of coffee; half of that caffeine content could still be in your system causing trouble. Yikes! Our advice? If you need a really good night’s sleep for any reason, swap the coffee for something else. Green tea has less caffeine or better yet, grab an alternative like adaptogens.
- It can affect your mood. Raise your hand if you struggle with mood swings! If that’s you, take caution with caffeine consumption around your period. Caffeine stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and triggers adrenaline release. Too much caffeine can make you feel extra nervous, jittery, or anxious as well as stress your adrenal glands. Try an adaptogen tea for more energy and make sure you’re eating regularly to keep your blood sugar balance, which might be why you’re feeling a crash in energy.
- It can upset your digestion. Period poops are enough of a burden, why make them worse? Prostaglandin production ramps up right before your period to help push the uterine lining out, but they often affect the bowels as well. Since caffeine is a stimulant, it can speed up bodily processes such as digestion, which lots of coffee can upset even further. If you need coffee to go, you may want to take a look at your diet to ensure you’re getting enough fiber to go without it.
- It can dehydrate you. Caffeine is a natural diuretic, which means it causes you to urinate more frequently and lose vital fluids. If you are drinking caffeine, make sure you’re supplementing with lots of water to rehydrate yourself.
- It can reduce your absorption of nutrients. If none of the reasons above is enough to convince you to limit your caffeine intake around your cycle, we’re hoping this one is. Unsurprisingly, water-soluble vitamins can be lost through urination. But excessive caffeine can also block your absorption of iron, which should be noted for those with extremely heavy irons, as you’re already losing some through your blood. In addition, as caffeine leaves the body, it pulls iron, calcium, magnesium, and B vitamins out. If you take your vitamins around the time of your caffeine consumption, it could be impairing the absorption of calcium.
- It can disrupt blood sugar levels. Most of us add cream and sugar to our daily coffee, which can spike blood sugar. Energy drinks often have sugar added to them to make them taste better, which also spikes blood sugar. In addition, it can cause extra cortisol production, and high levels can affect your body’s ability to regulate inflammation. If you already have trouble with chronic inflammation, caffeine might exacerbate the problem.
A quick note about menopause and caffeine
Caffeine consumption has also been linked to exacerbating menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. If you’re perimenopausal and struggling with these symptoms, you may want to look at your caffeine intake and see if lowering it helps at all.
All the supplements we offer are caffeine-free. We did this intentionally, so you never have to worry about them adding to your caffeine intake or contributing to the symptoms above. Whether you’re looking to have a more balanced cycle, need support transitioning to menopause, or want to promote better gut health, we’ve got you covered in the best non-caffeinated way.
At the end of the day, caffeine consumption is a personal choice, and you have to find the best solution for yourself. Some quit cold turkey and never go back; others find weening themselves off impossible. The wonderful news is there are so many alternatives to caffeine on the market today, so the possibilities are truly endless.