If you are an avid Period Talk reader (bless you!) you might have caught the surprising PS about alcohol in our post on PMS-related depression. It left us a little confused so we asked our founder, Kirsten, if alcohol affects our periods. Here’s her response:
“You’d think that drinking alcohol would exacerbate both PMS and depression, right? As someone who has been working with women to improve their cycles and fertility for over two decades, this seemed like a no-brainer question. But I recently read a study on PMS-related depression that found women who reported moderate to severe alcohol consumption actually had a lower risk for PMS(!!).
Small amounts of alcohol can stimulate the liver.
(So, in the case of the women in the study, in the last week of their cycles, when the liver tends to get bogged down from hormonal overload, drinking stimulated their livers.)
- In the short term, drinking can help relax the body – especially in really stressed individuals.
- Certain cancers, including breast cancer and cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and liver
- Sudden death if you already have cardiovascular disease
- Heart muscle damage (alcoholic cardiomyopathy) leading to heart failure
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Accidental serious injury or death
- Brain damage and other problems in an unborn child
- Alcohol withdrawal syndrome
Bummer. I know. So… now what? Should you or shouldn’t you drink when you have PMS or cramping?
Whether you’re going to drink or not, if you landed on this article you’re likely looking for ways to improve your cycle, PMS and/or cramps. Here are three resources that can help you achieve healthy, cramp-free, symptom-free cycles:
- Tips to Improve Your Cycle (7 tips for all people with periods)
- The Healthy Period Handbook (a free e-book that teaches you how to read your period, what an ideal cycle looks like, and how to get rid of cramps and PMS.)
- Seeing Red (our founder’s new book, “a bold, practical, and data-driven handbook for menstrual periods that provides an easy-to-navigate roadmap for improving your reproductive health—and your everyday quality of life.”)
PS: We kind of feel like a team of wet blankets for telling you that alcohol is not your friend. You should know that while we can’t in good conscious encourage people with periods to drink, the hype around cacao benefits IS real. So, full clearance for dark chocolates (the darker the better!) and anything you can whip up with cacao. (One of our teammates blends cacao nibs, vanilla extract, and frozen bananas together for an easy only-the-good-stuff chocolate ice cream).