Longing for a cup of Joe but worried about its possible effects? We have everything you need to know about caffeine and menopause.
For many of us, getting going without a morning coffee is unthinkable!
But what about caffeine and menopause symptoms?
Could that cup of Joe, chocolate bar, or coke actually make us feel worse?
That’s what we’re here to find out.
We’re going to look at what we know about menopause and caffeine — and what we don’t.
In this article: 📝
- Does caffeine affect menopause?
- Why the different messages?
- Does coffee trigger menopause?
- What foods should you avoid during menopause?
- What drink is good for menopause?
- The bottom line on caffeine and menopause
Does caffeine affect menopause?
Caffeine has been linked to various menopause symptoms, in particular, what’s known as vasomotor symptoms, or VMS.
These happen when your blood vessels dilate (widen) or contract (shrink).
And the best-known example is the dreaded hot flash.
But is caffeine really to blame?
Various studies have looked at this.
And the bad news is they haven’t come up with a clear answer.
The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) looked into this question, including more than 3,000 American women of different ethnicities in their research.
It found no link between caffeine and hot flashes.
But that’s not where the story ends.
This 2014 study conducted at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, found caffeine is linked to menopause symptoms, especially VMS.
Looking at questionnaires completed by over 1,800 women, the researchers compared the symptoms experienced by women who consumed caffeine with those who didn’t.
The caffeine-takers were significantly more likely to report hot flashes and other unwanted menopause symptoms.
Why the different messages?
The reason for these conflicting findings on caffeine and menopause may be the range of interconnected factors at play.
Different foods and drinks have different amounts of caffeine.
Even the same-sized lattes can have different quantities, depending on the kind of bean they’re brewed from.
So it’s hard to get a handle on how much caffeine someone is actually consuming.
People’s bodies also metabolize caffeine differently.
Your genes, ethnicity, and the stage of the menopause transition you’re in could all have an impact.
One study, for example, found that caffeine intake led to lower levels of estradiol, a type of estrogen, in white premenopausal women.
This is significant because low estradiol levels can make menopause symptoms worse.
But the same study found that green tea and caffeinated soda specifically were associated with higher estradiol levels in all women.
So, unfortunately, there are no easy answers here that apply across the board.
Does coffee trigger menopause?
There’s no evidence that coffee, or caffeine more generally, triggers early menopause.
Smoking, though, is a risk factor for this.
It’s also linked to more severe menopause symptoms.
So if you smoke, this could be good motivation to quit.
Easier said than done, we know.
Head here for advice from the CDC on how to get smoke-free.
What foods should you avoid during menopause?
The SWAN study found that neither diet nor exercise has a direct effect on menopause symptoms.
But we’re all different, and some people find particular foods trigger unwanted reactions.
Some women, for example, have found a connection between caffeine and breast pain after menopause.
It’s also worth remembering that symptoms can continue well after you’ve hit menopause.
Hot flashes, for example, continue for an average of five years afterward.
So it may help to stick to the foods that work for you (and avoid the ones that don’t) for a few years after you’ve said goodbye to your periods.
(Head here for ideas for a helpful menopause diet.)
What drink is good for menopause?
While menopause and coffee may not be perfect partners for everyone, other drinks could have positive effects.
Remember that research that showed that green tea and caffeinated sodas increase estradiol levels?
While we don’t know for sure if these drinks will take your symptoms away, the findings seem quite promising!
Some herbal teas may help too.
The bottom line on caffeine and menopause
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of what effect caffeine has on menopause symptoms.
You’re the authority on what works for your body.
If you’re experiencing hot flashes or other unwanted symptoms, it’s worth cutting out caffeine and seeing if it helps.
If it doesn’t, at least you can go back to enjoying your morning brew!
And know that you don’t have to do any of this alone.
Join our menopause community.
We’re having the conversation.