7

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Ladies: Do you find that eating sugar causes worse menstrual-symptoms/cramping?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 22, 2011 at 2:44 PM

Greetings to all the ladies:

I've been noticing that when I eat more sugar (desserts, sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, rapadura/sucanat; but not whole foods like sweet potatoes/fruits), my periods tend to be more uncomfortable (bloating, cramping, heavier flow...) I was wondering if anyone else noticed these symptoms and if they attributed it to excess sugar consumption?

I'm thinking that eating sugar is creating an inflammatory response in my body, because it also may be causing me to break-out in pimples the following days after a sugar-binge (regardless of whether or not my period is coming up). They're not huge/painful/cystic pimples; they're small, but they seem to be a little more sensitive and kinda itchy...symptom of detoxing?

For those who want to know, I'd say I generally eat pretty well (no grains, legumes), but I do eat dairy (I've experimented quite a bit with eliminating/introducing it for a few months, several times, but didn't seem to notice any negative effects, so I take the Mark Sisson approach and tend to eat fattier dairy, as well as raw/fermented dairy products).

Any thoughts, insights, or related experiences?

Update: Awesome ladies, thanks for all the insight and personal experiences! I would love to keep hearing more...

8634d4988ced45a68e2a79e69cc01835

(1617)

on April 30, 2012
at 04:06 PM

I get bloated in my abdomen no matter what (sugar or no sugar). I don't get the pre-period acne like I did before, and I don't get cramps hardly at all anymore. They used to be wicked bad when I was on the pill.

79cb6f03dc808787f6d26bf37bc4c2b9

(229)

on December 26, 2011
at 12:07 AM

Maybe you misread, but the change was a bad one :( It's the one thing so far that has been a negative change after going paleo.

8878af44f8881a95c4ba2006c06698be

(125)

on December 23, 2011
at 07:41 PM

Hmm, that's a good question. For me, it's not enough motivation on it's own (even my worst periods don't bother me that much), but the added benefit of the chronic tendonitis in my wrists disappearing is! But then again, it's hard. Chocolate, and the occasional glass of wine, is so tempting. It is a struggle, and while I try to do what I have found to be best for my body, the occasional slip is not worth fretting too much over :) Good luck with your resolution!

B9b739e406d30e2b168aed8e9c93add5

(103)

on December 23, 2011
at 04:54 AM

Nice. Do you find this is enough motivation to eat cleanly? I struggle with this a lot. I've actually made it a New Year's resolution to cut out all sugar (except for whole fruits and starches if I need something sweet) for an entire year! Perhaps a little extreme, but I think I need to break my attachment to sugar/desserts (including an emotional attachment to them).

B9b739e406d30e2b168aed8e9c93add5

(103)

on December 23, 2011
at 04:51 AM

So overall, you generally like your periods more now that you're paleo?

B9b739e406d30e2b168aed8e9c93add5

(103)

on December 23, 2011
at 04:48 AM

Well, it's a different sort of discomfort. You can have heavier bleeding and more cramps during your period, but since you have your diet dialed in, this shouldn't really be a problem. The big benefit is that it is non-hormonal, so it doesn't mess with your body like the pill, but it's also way more reliable than barrier methods. Big bonus: it lasts for up to 10 years, and yet you can get it taken out and your instantly ready for potential baby-makin'! In short: I <3 mine.

363d0a0277a8b61ada3a24ab3ad85d5a

(4642)

on December 22, 2011
at 07:10 PM

Yes, it can be a slippery slope! It is funny for me that the sugars led to the rice which then made me a bloated mess and pop up like 5 lbs. My goal is to ultimately get more in control of the sugar cravings, and stick to things like dates and dried pineapple which really keep me in place. Also, orange juice seems to help because it makes me feel really fully (if I have to pick anything sugary). I had considered the IUD - do you ever have any discomfort from it? I was having stomach issues and then decided to get off the pill because I read about the problems it can cause the gut.

B9b739e406d30e2b168aed8e9c93add5

(103)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:54 PM

What do you mean by raises my metabolism? Do you mean the sugar raises my need for more calories/nutrients because it has pulled valuable nutrients/minerals from my body in order to metabolize it?

B9b739e406d30e2b168aed8e9c93add5

(103)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:52 PM

Great insight about the pill. While I haven't taken the pill for a couple years, I've had a non-hormonal IUD (Paragard) for over a year, and let me tell you (TMI warning): a wire string hanging out of your cervix really put me in touch with my body! I also find that when I eat clean (no processed sugar at all), I have less cramping. Perhaps I'm a little more sensitive than you, because I tend to feel the effects even when I eat just chocolate for dessert. And of course, eating sugars causes me to crave more sugars, so it's hard to limit my intake...

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on December 22, 2011
at 02:54 PM

the pimples are probably because the sugar raises your metabolism which increases your need for nutrients. The same thing happens to me but is easily fixed with some supplemental vit A or liver.

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9 Answers

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3
363d0a0277a8b61ada3a24ab3ad85d5a

(4642)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:16 PM

Ever since I stopped taking the pill this past May, I noticed that my cramps are barely existent if I am eating clean, and even if I do increase my sugars, as the cravings are there, and I tend to give in a little, I try to keep it to dates. But currently, due to the gift of a huge box of Godiva truffles... I have given in. I haven't noticed an increase in uterine cramps, maybe it is because it is a lot of fat with some sugar? I had been eating VLC and IFing for the past few weeks and I haven't allowed increased carbs in anything else, just the sugar in these chocolates, so it didn't have a slippery slope effect like it has in the past, which I think is where I would get more pre-menstrual symptoms.

But, if the sugars craving leads to increased starches (like my last pre-period time, I ate a ton of rice, like, it was the only thing I ate for 3 days.. I have no idea why) then my intestines feel inflamed and bloated, as well as my breasts and I do feel like my lymph nodes get swollen all over. Also, the uterine cramps were pretty strong. Since I tend to not eat rice, it could have just been this event, but I get way more of a sugar rush from rice than I do from chocolates, or even dates. So if I consider rice a sugar, then yes, it inflames me! And I crave it even more.. the rice makes me feel like a bottomless pit while the chocolates and dates tend to satisfy me a lot faster due to their richness.

I have noticed the heavier flow too, but a shorter period with sugars/starches, versus a lighter flow and a longer period without sugars.

363d0a0277a8b61ada3a24ab3ad85d5a

(4642)

on December 22, 2011
at 07:10 PM

Yes, it can be a slippery slope! It is funny for me that the sugars led to the rice which then made me a bloated mess and pop up like 5 lbs. My goal is to ultimately get more in control of the sugar cravings, and stick to things like dates and dried pineapple which really keep me in place. Also, orange juice seems to help because it makes me feel really fully (if I have to pick anything sugary). I had considered the IUD - do you ever have any discomfort from it? I was having stomach issues and then decided to get off the pill because I read about the problems it can cause the gut.

B9b739e406d30e2b168aed8e9c93add5

(103)

on December 22, 2011
at 03:52 PM

Great insight about the pill. While I haven't taken the pill for a couple years, I've had a non-hormonal IUD (Paragard) for over a year, and let me tell you (TMI warning): a wire string hanging out of your cervix really put me in touch with my body! I also find that when I eat clean (no processed sugar at all), I have less cramping. Perhaps I'm a little more sensitive than you, because I tend to feel the effects even when I eat just chocolate for dessert. And of course, eating sugars causes me to crave more sugars, so it's hard to limit my intake...

B9b739e406d30e2b168aed8e9c93add5

(103)

on December 23, 2011
at 04:48 AM

Well, it's a different sort of discomfort. You can have heavier bleeding and more cramps during your period, but since you have your diet dialed in, this shouldn't really be a problem. The big benefit is that it is non-hormonal, so it doesn't mess with your body like the pill, but it's also way more reliable than barrier methods. Big bonus: it lasts for up to 10 years, and yet you can get it taken out and your instantly ready for potential baby-makin'! In short: I <3 mine.

2
F68896acca010f5f9c0315638e93a38b

(40)

on December 22, 2011
at 04:47 PM

Sugar definitely impacts my cramps. When I'm eating 100% clean at least 2 weeks prior and during I barely have any cramps. I still need to take aleve but not as much as I would when I'm not eating clean.

1
79cb6f03dc808787f6d26bf37bc4c2b9

(229)

on December 22, 2011
at 08:37 PM

Hrm.. before transitioning to clean eating they'd last for about 7-8 days and were very light and had no symptoms or signs except for moodiness and the calendar. No bloating, no cramps, no cravings, no tenderness... just a moody brat.

Now? I have significantly shorter and heavier periods with extreme cramping for a good 3 or 4 days before and all during, tender breasts for about a week before and a LOT of intense, intense cravings. Less moody though, that's a plus.

B9b739e406d30e2b168aed8e9c93add5

(103)

on December 23, 2011
at 04:51 AM

So overall, you generally like your periods more now that you're paleo?

79cb6f03dc808787f6d26bf37bc4c2b9

(229)

on December 26, 2011
at 12:07 AM

Maybe you misread, but the change was a bad one :( It's the one thing so far that has been a negative change after going paleo.

0
Medium avatar

on March 18, 2014
at 02:15 PM

Food definitely affects cramps and other sensations. Sugar is an all round 'no-no' for me - as for the natural sugars, well it's what they tend to be combined with. I can scarf down a few figs and dates ie whole foods with little ill effect, but at 'that time' of the month I often get cravings for less health promoting choices. It has helped me to rest ie spend most of the day at home, lounging. And to eat whole starches - non-grains such as sweet potatoes and bananas, then the craving for 'sweet' is subdued.

0
E552018a9289a842e1702b6e899552a9

on February 14, 2014
at 09:33 PM

I read, decades ago, in a nutrition book by Adelle Davis, that menstrual cramps and these little pimples on arms and legs come from a deficiency of oil-soluble vitamin A, which also can lead to migraines. A deficiency can happen, of course, with using the eyes a lot in bright lights, snow, night driving, but what was interesting is that they found it happens when one eats rancid or overcooked oil, and particularly hydrogenated vegetable oil, which has a chink in it which combs thru the body taking out the vit A. The lack of vitamin A kills off the cells in the surface layers of skin, uterine lining, and even walls of arteries, causing pores to clog, and clots and cramping in the uterus. I had terrible migraines and menstrual cramps so bad I couldn't get out of bed. After reading this in her old book, way back in the early 1970's, I tried the little gel caps with Vit A and the first day the migraines stopped, and in the first month the cramping and clotting stopped and the bumps on the back of arms and butt disappeared. Since then I always carry a little bottle of gel caps of vit A,and avoid hydrogenated vegetable oil products like the plague. It has to be in the oil capsules, not water soluble A that you find in regular vitamins.) Don't take more than recommended on the label or by a doctor.

0
098d5c5d52fa1afa153e1e575c21924a

on August 27, 2013
at 07:27 AM

Short answer: 100% YES. When I'm eating healthy, keeping sugar to a minimum, and exercising regularly, I often don't need to take any kind of pain medication against cramps at all. When I have been eating sugary foods too frequently in the time leading up to my period, I can expect to be completely non-functional, on-the-floor crying, from the cramps if I do not dose myself early and often with pain killers.

What's more, during the first few days of my period, I can literally feel any sugar I eat hit my stomach and bloom into pain. I pretty much feel the sugar enter my blood system. Sugar to me is pretty much poison during my period and this has been the case since I was a teenager. I've gotten a lot of weird looks over it when that "Come on, just one!" coworker comes by with treats during my period, but hell with them, it's never worth it.

0
Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

on April 30, 2012
at 03:54 PM

I have recently experienced what I think is very relevant to this question. I am at the very end of my Whole30 and my monthly gift arrived yesterday morning. I was shocked when I realized I had experienced no cramps, bloating, pre-event mood swings, or anything else.

Flash back to yesterday evening: Sugar craving! Knowing I couldn't have anything not Whole30 approved, I made a smoothie with frozen banana, frozen strawberries and a little bit of pineapple. 20 minutes later - extreme cramps that lasted through the night and are still going this morning.

Could this really be from the sugar intake? It seems likely since I had literally no sugar in my system for days prior and then it happened.

What a cruel joke for our bodies to play on us! Crave sugar and indulge then BAM pain for 12 hours straight. It's great being a woman. :/

0
8878af44f8881a95c4ba2006c06698be

(125)

on December 22, 2011
at 07:37 PM

Absolutely. When I did the Whole30 regimen/100% clean eating my period was 3 days shorter than usual, way lighter, with just one evening of very mild cramping. I have an IUD (copper/no hormones) and my periods are usually long (7 days), heavy, and with severe cramps.

B9b739e406d30e2b168aed8e9c93add5

(103)

on December 23, 2011
at 04:54 AM

Nice. Do you find this is enough motivation to eat cleanly? I struggle with this a lot. I've actually made it a New Year's resolution to cut out all sugar (except for whole fruits and starches if I need something sweet) for an entire year! Perhaps a little extreme, but I think I need to break my attachment to sugar/desserts (including an emotional attachment to them).

8878af44f8881a95c4ba2006c06698be

(125)

on December 23, 2011
at 07:41 PM

Hmm, that's a good question. For me, it's not enough motivation on it's own (even my worst periods don't bother me that much), but the added benefit of the chronic tendonitis in my wrists disappearing is! But then again, it's hard. Chocolate, and the occasional glass of wine, is so tempting. It is a struggle, and while I try to do what I have found to be best for my body, the occasional slip is not worth fretting too much over :) Good luck with your resolution!

0
B33f7c04c09d8bbbf181dd8aca04f373

on December 22, 2011
at 06:58 PM

Sugar impacts my cramps, my flow, my breakouts... I too had the paraguard, and had it taken out 1 month pre-paleo first paleo-no IUD period was so much easier!

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