Period Talk

Period stuff for people with periods.

Foods that Make Your PMS Worse


We’re big believers that “food is medicine” and have shared lists of things you can eat and drink to relieve cramps, ward off PMS headaches, and reduce PMS. But what about foods that have the opposite effects and actually make things worse for you and your cycle?

These are the two key things our founder, Kirsten, suggests you avoid:

  1. Any animal product that is not hormone-free.
    • When you eat meat, butter, cheese, or milk from an animal that is loaded with hormones, you’re consuming the hormones too. That means more hormones for your body to deal with. If you experience PMS, that’s a sign that your liver is already overloaded and faced with more hormones than it can efficiently metabolize. So, you’ll want to work to improve your liver function and reduce the amount of hormones you’re taking in.
    • A lot of people assume the hormones are just in meat, but a lot of hormones are actually stored in animal fat. Since butter and cheese are made from the (fatty) cream that is skimmed off the top of the milk, they contain a higher percentage of hormones than the meat itself.
    • This doesn’t mean you need to go vegan. Just do your best to look for hormone-free options so your food doesn’t end up disrupting your hormonal system.
    • When it comes to identifying hormone-free options, you should know that food labels can be misleading. (It can say “hormone-free” for animals that weren’t treated with hormones but that ate feed loaded with hormones, for example, and on the flip side, “grass-fed” is great but it doesn’t mean the animal wasn’t pumped with hormones).  Meat and animal products that are certified organic are safe when it comes to avoiding hormones, as one of the standards for certification is that “animals must eat only organically grown feed (without animal byproducts) and can’t be treated with synthetic hormones or antibiotics.”
  2. Alcohol.
    • A lot of people have the idea that one glass of wine is healthy for women and their heart health in particular. But the study that spread that idea has (unfortunately) been debunked. Current research shows that NO amount of alcohol is beneficial to women’s health and it’s actually linked to a whole list of health issues including cancer, strokes, and liver disease
    • As for your menstrual cycle, one of the big issues with alcohol is that it’s dehydrating. If you are not well-hydrated, it’s more difficult for your liver to metabolize your hormones and get rid of them effectively. When this happens in the two weeks before your period, your systems get bogged down and it leads to worse PMS symptoms. (Remember: your liver function is a main determining factor as per whether you experience PMS or not, and to what degree.)
    • Ironically, that two-week window before the period is often when drinkers with periods really want to drink, because they’re PMS-ing and feeling moody, bloated, not-cute, etc. But drinking to make your PMS suck less will actually end up making it worse. Breast pain is a prime example; when you’re dehydrated the fluids can’t flow freely through your breast tissue, and that leads to swelling and pain.
    • We’re not here to tell you not to drink, we’re just here to give you the information you need to make informed decisions about your health. If you want to see how much alcohol affects your cycle and if it’s worth cutting back on, experiment with yourself. Try a dry (or drier) month and see if it makes you feel any better.

If this information leads you to reduce your consumption of hormone-packed animal products and/or alcohol, please comment to let us know how it goes. We’re always curious to hear about what does and doesn’t work for our community members. We’re also here to answer any questions you might have – you can reach out to our founders directly through the chatbot.