How having that extra cup of coffee could affect your period

Jan 27, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. ET
Image: Getty Images

As a college student, I regularly find myself relying on caffeine to function.

Whether I’m drinking a Red Bull to pull an all-nighter for exams or having a cup of coffee as an energy-booster for the morning, I’ve become addicted to caffeine. However, I’ve learned the importance of toning down my caffeine intake because of the unwanted side effects that could disrupt mental and physical health, including my menstrual cycle.

More: How a caffeine addict quit coffee once and for all

What Is caffeine?

Caffeine is a drug that stimulates the production of adrenaline, also known as the fight or flight hormone, which increases your heart rate and gets your blood pumping. It also affects the dopamine levels in your brain, which makes you feel happy. However, with regular consumption of caffeine, your body may become dependent on the drug and you'll face withdrawal symptoms without your daily dose.

How caffeine affects menstruation

Increases PMS symptoms

Overindulging in caffeinated beverages has been linked to amping up premenstrual symptoms like cramping, headaches, mood swings, bloating and soreness of the breasts. In order to cope with the intensified PMS symptoms, some women may be tempted to grab another cup of coffee to increase their energy. However, it will only backfire, leading to “tension, anxiety, trouble sleeping and amplified exhaustion,” according to LiveStrong.

More: Get your coffee fix without the caffeine

Causes shortened and irregular cycles

According to a study by the American Journal of Epidemiology, women who drink caffeinated beverages during menstruation tend to have shortened periods.

Fluctuates hormone levels

Caffeine increases norepinephrine and epinephrine levels, which are stress hormones that are in charge of elevating your blood pressure and heart rate. When these hormone levels are increased, your blood vessels are restricted, which causes tension in your body. Women tend to be more sensitive to caffeine than men because it takes longer for women to “detoxify” it out of their system, according to Natural News.

How to energize without caffeinated consumptions

Although it may sound impossible, there are plenty of ways to stay energized without your morning cup of coffee.

More: The best foods to eat on your period — and the bad ones to skip

Get more than seven hours of sleep

This may seem like common sense, but people most commonly rely on caffeine to function throughout the day because of a lack of sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, healthy adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Sleep deprivation can affect your alertness, concentration and problem-solving skills.

Drink water

Probably the most important tip to remember is to stay hydrated. About 60 percent of your body is made up of water. Even simple everyday activities such as breathing, sweating and urinating can cause dehydration. A mild form of dehydration can be enough to decrease your energy, alertness and concentration.

Partake in daily exercise

Physical activity increases the blood flow throughout your body, providing your brain more oxygen, which increases your overall mental performance. The hippocampus, a part of your brain that is critical for your memory and learning, is extremely active during physical activity.

Listen to positive music

Get ready to jam out to Beyoncé; listening to music has the ability to cause a state of arousal by increasing your heart rate and blood flow. Your favorite tune can also potentially release the “feel good” chemical, dopamine, throughout your body.

By Katlyn Tolly

Originally published on HelloFlo.