caffeine and the menstrual cycle

Caffeine is AWESOME! Why we need you to stop

OVA MOON's vision is to to set you up to have the most easeful cycle that supports you in all of the amazing things you are doing in your life! And so, with this message, we promise we ARE NOT telling you never to have caffeine again (Pinky promise ;)-  we only hope to give you useful information to help you think strategically about WHEN and HOW much caffeine is right for you so that you can use your intake to support your life and thrivvvvvve!

Caffeine impacts people differently. This can be based on countless factors including genetics, body weight, other lifestyle choices, and metabolism, to name a few. For example, the half-life of caffeine is shorter in smokers than non-smokers, while the half-life of caffeine is doubled in women taking oral contraceptives.

Like all things, this topic is complex and multifaceted. But here are some important things to know about caffeine and your cycle:

Chronic caffeine intake has been shown to increase the receptors of serotonin, GABA , and acetylcholine, which may contribute to the elevated mood and perceived increase in energy we feel after a coffee. Despite increasing receptors, caffeine also blocks the release of GABA (the “downer” neurotransmitter), which contributes to our feeling of alertness. This can result in anxiety and increased heart rate, escalating symptoms of PMS. Coffee inhibits the absorption of iron (luckily we've got 18mg in the Hormone + Cycle Balancing Multivitamin & the Prenatal Multivitamin, a key mineral involved with the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine. Additionally, we need the activated form of vitamin B6, pyridoxal-5-phosphate (40mg in OVA MOON), to synthesize serotonin, dopamine and GABA. Coffee consumption can decrease amounts of circulating B-vitamins, which could affect neurotransmitter synthesis in another way. Thus, caffeine impacts whether certain chemicals are available; how receptive our brains are to them; and whether we’re even making those chemicals in the first place. Caffeine is able to enter the brain and directly increase blood pressure and stimulate the release of stress hormones. As our hormones change throughout our cycle, this can either be a benign occurrence, or impact our mood and well being. Studies in humans have shown that caffeine increases cortisol and epinephrine at rest, and that levels of cortisol after caffeine consumption are similar to those experienced during an acute stress. Drinking coffee, in other words, re-creates stress conditions for the body.

What we recommend: Be strategic WHEN you drink caffeine and HOW much. Between the end of menstruation and ovulation, the immune system is stronger and hormones are on the rise. This means the body can withstand the impact of coffee with more ease. However, in some ways, you may feel you need caffeine less during this time as we are naturally (hormonally) more energized. Post-ovulation, mid-cycle until Menstruation, we recommend taking more care with caffeine. If an extra hour of sleep and 2 more glasses of water will have a similar effect on your productivity, do that instead! We are big fans of green tea and matcha during this time, if caffeine is a must. Green tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine. The combination of caffeine and L-theanine leads to improved brain function and the ability to focus. Green tea is also most commonly associated with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties; in other words, it's capable of reducing inflammation levels, because it stimulates the body's anti-inflammatory responses and calms the immune system down.

At the end of the day, it's best to track your cycle and notice the impact of caffeine on your body throughout the month. You are the expert!

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