These Popular Foods Make Menstrual Cramps Worse

Everyone with a uterus knows the pain of the period: bloating, cramps, nausea, fatigue, and other exhausting, painful symptoms. In October 2022, The North American Menopause Society published a study on how different foods affect period pain, both positively and negatively.


Many of us can't imagine starting the day without a cup of coffee to give us a caffeine boost. However, Flo Health says "Coffee blocks a hormone that shrinks uterine blood vessels, slowing blood flow. Coffee can also irritate the stomach. Thus, coffee can aggravate cramps."

Red meat

When we're sick, a juicy burger can be comforting. According to Medical News Today, omega-6 fatty acids are "pro-inflammatory, and they trigger the painful menstruation cascade." Can you guess what food has those acids? That's red meat. "The American diet is very high in omega-6 fatty acids," Sannoh said. While menstruating, cutting back may help.


According to Medical News Today, refined sugar is highly inflammatory. When your body digests free fatty acids, which the liver produces and refined sugar stimulates, inflammation occurs. Doctors say avoiding added sugars improves liver health.

Oils and fats

Some oils and fats are healthy, but they may aggravate period pain. Christmas says common cooking oils and trans fats are unhealthy "increase prostaglandin production. Dysmenorrhea is caused by increased vasoconstriction of the blood vessels feeding the uterine musculature, which causes uterine cramping."


Unsurprisingly, salt is also to blame. High salt levels cause water retention, bloating, and discomfort. Sodium, a key ingredient in salt, can damage your heart and accelerate skin ageing. Menstrual cramps may be reduced by reducing this inflammatory ingredient.

Foods like these may reduce pain.

Katherine Lang, BSc, told Medical News Today, "It has long been known that some foods cause inflammation and others relieve it." "Foods that reduce inflammation may also reduce menstrual cramps," according to recent research. Lang's summary of an exciting new NAMS study states that "foods containing omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and may alleviate [cramps]."

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