Caffeine is a drug found in many popular beverages such as cola soft drinks, tea, coffee and energy drinks. This substance is also present in certain foods such as chocolate, and is added to certain medications, such as painkillers, according to the Nemours TeensHealth website 4. Caffeine has physical effects on both males and females, and women of child-bearing age may notice an effect on their menstrual periods.
Missed Period Causes
Women miss their menstrual periods for a variety of reasons, and caffeine is one of the culprits, according to the Women to Women website. Drinking too much coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages and eating caffeine-rich foods such as chocolate can effect the menstrual cycle. Caffeine is not the only culprit, as a high carbohydrate diet, excessive weight loss or gain, stress, too much alcohol, stress or certain medical conditions can also cause missed periods.
Caffeine Menstrual Effects
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Caffeine has other effects on a woman's menstrual cycle besides potentially making it irregular. This drug causes salt and fluid retention, according to the Women's Health Information website, and increases tension by constricting the blood vessels, which can worsen cramping. Heavy caffeine consumption shortened women's periods, as well as their overall cycles, in a study of 403 female Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program members, published in the "American Journal of Epidemiology" in 1999, although it had no effect on ovulation 3.
Other Physical Effects
Caffeine has other physical effects that are the same for both men and women. For example, it enhances alertness and increases urination frequency because it acts as a diuretic. The drug causes the body to lose calcium if consumed excessively for a long time, according to the TeensHealth site. Caffeine gives some people headaches and may worsen certain heart problems. The alertness can turn into anxiety or irritability if you consume to much. Many women have emotional symptoms such as irritability and physical symptoms such as headaches before and during their periods, so caffeine can worsen these existing problems.
- Caffeine has other physical effects that are the same for both men and women.
- Many women have emotional symptoms such as irritability and physical symptoms such as headaches before and during their periods, so caffeine can worsen these existing problems.
Caffeine & Heart Palpitations
Caffeine may be behind missed menstrual periods, especially if you eat or drink a lot of heavily caffeinated foods and beverages, but there might be another cause that needs medical treatment. See your doctor for a check-up if you suddenly start skipping periods and the problem persists even if you cut down on caffeine. You could have a condition such as breast or uterine cancer or issues with your pituitary or thyroid glands, all of which affect your hormones and can cause irregular menstruation. Pregnancy may also be a possibility.
- Caffeine may be behind missed menstrual periods, especially if you eat or drink a lot of heavily caffeinated foods and beverages, but there might be another cause that needs medical treatment.
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- Women to Women; Menstruation, Irregular Periods; Marcelle Pick; May 2011
- Women's Health Information; Menstrual Cycles, What Really Happens in those 28 Days; January 2011
- "American Journal of Epidemiology"; Caffeine Consumption and Menstrual Function; March, 1999
- TeensHealth from Nemours: What is Caffeine?
- Go Ask Alice; Missed Periods; July 1998
- Meredith SE, Juliano LM, Hughes JR, Griffiths RR. Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda. J Caffeine Res. 2013;3(3):114-130. doi:10.1089/jcr.2013.0016
- Richards G, Smith AP. A Review of Energy Drinks and Mental Health, with a Focus on Stress, Anxiety, and Depression. J Caffeine Res. 2016;6(2):49-63. doi:10.1089/jcr.2015.0033
- Brunyé TT, Mahoney CR, Rapp DN, Ditman T, Taylor HA. Caffeine enhances real-world language processing: evidence from a proofreading task. J Exp Psychol Appl. 2012;18(1):95-108. doi:10.1037/a0025851
- Koppelstaetter F, Poeppel TD, Siedentopf CM, et al. Caffeine and cognition in functional magnetic resonance imaging. J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;20 Suppl 1:S71-84. doi:10.3233/JAD-2010-1417
- Harrell PT, Juliano LM. Caffeine expectancies influence the subjective and behavioral effects of caffeine. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2009;207(2):335-42. doi:10.1007/s00213-009-1658-5
- Lucas M, O'reilly EJ, Pan A, et al. Coffee, caffeine, and risk of completed suicide: results from three prospective cohorts of American adults. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2014;15(5):377-86. doi:10.3109/15622975.2013.795243
- Abdel-Hady H, Nasef N, Shabaan AE, Nour I. Caffeine therapy in preterm infants. World J Clin Pediatr. 2015;4(4):81-93. doi:10.5409/wjcp.v4.i4.81
- American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th edition. Washington DC; 2013.
- Turnbull D, Rodricks JV, Mariano GF, Chowdhury F. Caffeine and cardiovascular health. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2017;89:165-185. doi:10.1016/j.yrtph.2017.07.025
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol and Caffeine. Updated October 23, 2018.
- Alsunni AA. Energy Drink Consumption: Beneficial and Adverse Health Effects. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2015;9(4):468-474.
- Lyngsø J, Ramlau-Hansen CH, Bay B, Ingerslev HJ, Hulman A, Kesmodel US. Association between coffee or caffeine consumption and fecundity and fertility: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis. Clin Epidemiol. 2017;9:699-719. doi:10.2147/CLEP.S146496
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Pure and Highly Concentrated Caffeine. Updated September 21, 2018.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. Updated July 2018.
Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience. She is a mental health counselor, finance coach and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as "The Writer" and "Grit" and she authored the book, "So You Want to Be a Counselor."