There are many drinks that help with period cramps. WUKA experts discuss what to drink during period and the best drinks for period cramps.
What to drink during your period
And when it comes to natural remedies there are, luckily, lots of drinks that you can make at home to ease these symptoms. So if you’re wondering if it’s ok to drink alcohol while on your period, or you’re asking, does coffee affect period cramps- read on to find out.
Laura Southern, nutritional therapist at London Gynaecology explains how under consuming enough water can be detrimental, especially if you're suffering from menstrual cramps.
"It is thought that less water increases the rise of vasopressin, a hormone which causes uterine contractions – i.e. period cramps. Increasing water seems to decrease vasopressin, therefore resulting in less pain.
There was a small study done on 18-30 year old women in Iran over three years which found that women who increased their water intake from less than 1.6l to 2l during their period had decreased menstrual pain and less reliance on painkillers, than those drinking 1.6l daily.“
And Laura added,
“Also when it's hot we need to drink more, and period cramps can be made worse by dehydration.”
So what are you waiting for? Grab that water bottle and keep it filled throughout the day.
Smoothies are a really great way to boost your 5-a-day and they have the added bonus of being a fantastic natural remedy for period cramps too.
Choose ingredients such as pineapple (we already know this is a wonderful ingredient for releasing tension in the muscles), ginger (again, amazing anti-oxidant and powerful anti-inflammatory properties), plus berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries), which are also packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Don’t forget to add a handful of greens to your smoothie too, such as spinach or kale. The magnesium in these leafy vegetables will help to soothe muscle spasms in the uterus and can also soothe digestive issues too. It’s also worth noting that leafy greens are high in iron, which is essential in your diet, especially during your period.
Avocado can also be a great addition to your smoothie- the healthy fats and fibre will give you a boost of energy when you need it most. Plus they contain vitamins B6 and E, along with potassium and magnesium, which are thought to help balance out hormones.
Studies have shown that drinking chamomile tea during your period can help with cramps, thanks to compounds called hippurate and glycine.
These compounds both work to relieve muscle spasms and relax the uterus. Chamomile also has anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s widely known to be the go-to for relaxing and soothing the mind too.
Drinks to avoid during your period
While there are plenty of drinks that can certainly help ease the symptoms of period cramps and tummy upsets, there are also some that are best avoided during your period.
Anecdotally, some women claim that drinking alcohol can help to ‘numb’ period cramps, but the truth is that because alcohol is a diuretic, it may actually have the opposite effect.
Drinking alcohol makes us urinate more, which can lead to dehydration- and this can actually make cramps worse. Not only that, but alcohol can also increase levels of oestrogen and testosterone in the body, and too much of either hormone can make PMS symptoms such as irritability a lot worse. Couple this with the disruption of prostaglandins that can intensify cramps and it’s really not a good time!
It’s also worth pointing out that the dehydration we tend to feel the morning after a night of drinking alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms of a hangover, and lead to a worsening of period cramps too.
Regular consumption of alcohol can affect period cramps too. Hormonal fluctuations that happen when you drink can lead to irregular periods, and if you regularly drink heavily, this can result in fertility issues and could potentially cause your period to stop altogether.
If you’re concerned about drinking on your period, or you find that alcohol makes your period cramps worse, make sure you do your best to stay hydrated as much as you can. For every alcoholic drink you consume, match it with a glass of water, and prepare for some worsening of symptoms the next morning.
“There is conflicting scientific evidence over whether caffeine has a negative, positive or no effect on menstrual cramps. The best way to find out if it effects you is to experiment - if you suffer with menstrual cramps then try cutting out all caffeine 1-2 weeks before your period and see if there's a difference in pain.
Some of the reasons caffeine might cause an issue is because it can cause blood vessels to narrow, so restricting blood flow which might increase pain. Caffeine, for some women, can also cause digestive changes - perhaps it causes diarrhoea or is the only way you can open your bowels. Many women have looser bowels during their periods too; the combination of 'period poo'; and caffeine might increase pain and sensitivity in the tummy.”
If you think that coffee might be having a negative affect on period cramps, it might be worth cutting back a little to see if reducing your intake helps.
Lots of us assume that a nice mug of hot chocolate would be great for period cramps- and while it’s true that hot drinks are generally very good for tummy pains, you might need to think twice about this one. The above symptoms definitely won't be a treat when you add in those stabbing cramps as well.
When you consume drinks with high amounts of sugar, such as fizzy pop and some fruit juices, your blood sugar levels take a dramatic rise. This will initially leave you feeling full of energy, but the guaranteed crash that follows as your blood sugar levels drop again will do the exact opposite.
Lots of women report feeling more fatigued during their period, and the energy crash you experience after drinking a sugary drink can exacerbate this- leaving you feeling even worse than before.
Fizzy drinks can also leave you feeling gassy and bloated, which is the last thing you need if you’re already suffering from these symptoms thanks to your period.
So while you may think that energy drinks are a good idea to combat period fatigue, they can actually be making everything a lot worse.
We know that blood sugar levels rise and fall dramatically when we consume sugar, therefore we know that the same will happen when we drink energy drinks. And as we know that caffeine can cause vasoconstriction (a narrowing of the blood vessels) which can lead to a worsening of period cramps, we also know this too will happen when we drink energy drinks.
The bottom line is that caffeine and sugar can increase your period cramps, and energy drinks are chockfull of caffeine and sugar. Sorry!