Does Caffeine Affect Endo?
It's been a couple of years since I completely kicked caffeine from my daily diet. This isn't to say I never have a drink or snack with caffeine in it (especially as chocolate has small amounts of caffeine). However, now, I only have it a few times a month, if that, rather than daily or even weekly.
How caffeine affected my endo, and my IBS
I decided to give up caffeine when my heartburn and reflux issues were getting particularly bad, to see if that would help. While I did notice a mild improvement there, it wasn't anything drastic. But I did notice my periods were also slightly less painful as well. I decided to stick to my no-caffeine routine. For years, I drank coffee every morning until IBS forced me to switch to black tea instead. And then I drank regular black tea for the better part of the next decade. Then I began drinking decaf black or green tea (organic only, as the organic process for decaffeinating seemed to require less chemical processes). Sometimes, I even just drink herbal tea- chamomile and ginger are my favorites. However, these past two years I discovered herbal coffee- which tastes a lot like coffee, but is instead made of things like chicory, dandelion, and carob.
What the research shows
But does lowering caffeine intake or eliminating caffeine altogether from one's diet eliminate the risk for developing endo, or make it worse? Studies have yielded conflicting results. One article I found cites a 1993 study from Harvard School of Public Health that concluded that those who drank two or more cups of coffee per day and/or four cans of soda were twice as likely to develop endo as those who did not. Another study referenced in that article from 1996 also found caffeine seems to raise estrogen levels, which is associated with development of endo.1 Additionally, another study published that same year found that women who ingested too much caffeine experienced lower rate of fertility. This study noted that, "A significant increase in the risk of infertility due to tubal disease or endometriosis was observed for the upper levels of caffeine intake, indicating a threshold effect".2
However, a much more recent study from 2014, that analyzed eight other case studies found "no evidence for an association between coffee/caffeine consumption and the risk of endometriosis".3 Strangely, a different study from Harvard Public School of Health, published in 2011, evaluated 67,500 Nurses’ Health Study participants and revealed that women between 34 and 59, who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee each day over 26 years, reduced their risk for for endometrial cancer by 25%.4
So, it seems the jury is still out. For me personally, I haven't known a stark difference in my pain levels with my period since giving up caffeine. Nonetheless, I find that being off caffeine most of the time makes me feel less jittery, less inclined for headaches, and more prone to restful sleep. So, I only reserve caffeine for when I want a special treat or need an extra boost. Otherwise, I am fine not having it in my life. At the least, caffeine can cause or worsen inflammation and anything I can do to prevent or preempt inflammation is helpful.
Have you given up caffeine or plan to? Have you noticed a difference in your pain levels before or during your periods? Answer in the comments below!
Have you ever experienced a "weird" symptom and wondered if it was endo related?