Women have a greater sensitivity to caffeine than men and their bodies may take much longer to detoxify caffeine and recover from its stimulating effects. (Mathias, et al, 1985); (Cherniske, 1998)

This is significant since caffeine directly affects women’s hormonal levels by increasing estrones, or female hormones, while decreasing available testosterone. (Ferrini and Barrett-Connor, 1996)

Premenstrual Syndrome and Caffeine​

Up to 40% of women of childbearing age experience some degree of premenstrual syndrome, and up to 10% suffer from severe symptoms.Symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) occur between ovulation and menstruation and include: breast swelling and tenderness,weight gain, headache, abdominal cramping and bloating, nausea, joint pain, acne, pain, irritability, lethargy, fatigue,depression, anxiety and even hostility and aggression. PMS is not adequately explained by vitamin deficiency or hormone imbalance and most treatments including oral contraceptives, vitamins, diuretics or hormones are ineffective against everything on the list.

Lifestyle changes including exercise, stress reduction and sodium and caffeine restriction can have a positive impact on symptoms. Elimination of coffee can reduce breast tenderness, nervousness and irritability. (Ugarriza , 1998); (Dickerson, et al, 2003) (Barnhart, et al, 1995); (Massil, and O’Brien 1987); (Budoff, 1983)

Stress, PMS and Caffeine

Caffeine in coffee elevates the stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and norepinephrine. These hormones are responsible for increased heart rate and blood pressure, and a sense of emergency alert. Circulation of oxygen to the brain and extremities is decreased and the immune system is suppressed. (Robertson, et al, 1978); (Lane, et al, 1990); (Lane 1994)
Stress levels account for a significant amount of variation in the symptoms felt throughout a women’s menstrual cycle. (Kerr, et al 1993)

References (by alphabetical order)

Barnhart, K.T., Freeman, E.W. and Sondheimer, S.J. 1995. A clinician’s guide to the premenstrual syndrome. Medical Clinics of North America. 79(6):1457-72.
Budoff, P.W. 1983. The use of prostaglandin inhibitors for the premenstrual syndrome. Journal of Reproductive Medicine. 28(7):469-78.
Cherniske, S. Caffeine Blues. Copyright 1998.

Dickerson, L.M., Mazyck, P.J. and Hunter, M.H. 2003. Premenstrual Syndrome. American Family Physician. 67(8):1743-52.

Ferrini, R.L. and Barrett-Connor, E.. 1996. Caffeine intake and endogenous sex steroid levels in postmenopausal women. The Rancho Bernardo Study. American Journal of Epidemiology. 144(7):642-4.

Kerr, D., Sherwin, R.S., Pavalkis, F., Fayad, P.B., Sikorski, L., Rife, F., Tamborlane, W.V. and During, M.J. 1993.Effect of caffeine on the recognition of and responses to hypoglycemia in humans. Annals of Internal Medicine. 119(8):799-804.

Lane, J.D. 1994. Neuroendocrine Responses to Caffeine in the Work Environment. Psychosomatic Medicine. 546:267-70.

Lane, J.D., Adcock, R.A., Williams, R.B. and C.M. Kuhn. 1990. Caffeine effects on cardiovascular and neuroendocrineresponses to acute psychosocial stress and their relationship to level of habitual caffeine consumption. Psychosomatic Medicine. 52(3):320-36.

Massil, H.Y. and O’Brien, P.M. 1987. Approach to the management of premenstrual syndrome. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology. 30(2):443-52.

Mathias, S., Garland, C., Barrett-Connor, E. and Wingard, D.L. 1985. Coffee, plasma cholesterol, and lipoproteins. A population study in an adult community. American Journal of Epidemiology. 121(6):896-905.

Robertson, D., Frolich, J.C., Carr, R.K., Watson, J.T., Hollifield, J.W., Shand, D.G. and J.A. Oates. 1978. Effects of caffeine on plasma renin activity, catecholamines and blood pressure. New England Journal of Medicine. 298(4):181-6.

Ugarriza, D.N., Klingner, S. and O’Brien, S. 1998. Premenstrual Syndrome: Diagnosis and Intervention. Nurse Practitioner. 23(9):40,45,49-52.