Mood swings, fatigue, breast tenderness, bloating, and irritability are just some of the symptoms many women have to go through every. single. month.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is estimated to affect three in four women in the days leading up to their period. Around 5 to 8 percent experience a particularly severe form of PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which can interfere with their ability to go about their day-to-day life.
The good news is that there could be a scientifically backed way to reduce symptoms. It's just you're not going to like it.
A meta-analysis of 19 studies involving more than 47,000 people from eight different countries, published in the British Medical Journal Open, has linked alcohol intake to PMS. The researchers go so far as to suggest our alcohol habits may be to blame for the more than one in 10 of cases worldwide.
Moderate drinking was defined as one average-sized drink a day and heavy drinking was anything more than that. Apparently, consuming a moderate amount of alcohol can raise a woman's risk by 45 percent. Indulge in more than one glass per day and the researchers say you up your risk of PMS by 79 percent.
This means that in Europe, where 60 percent of women drink and 13 percent would be (by this study) defined as a heavy drinker, as many as 21 percent of PMS cases could be alcohol-related.
The authors of the analysis reason that alcohol may interfere with the levels of sex hormones and gonadotropin in the body during the menstrual cycle, all of which have been linked to PMS in the past. It could also be that alcohol disrupts gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) activity or messes with the body's mood-altering chemical serotonin.
However, there may be a much simpler explanation for this apparent link. Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, told Reuters Health she didn't believe this analysis proved there was a cause and effect association between alcohol consumption and mild to severe PMS.
Instead, as also mentioned by the authors, there could be a correlational relationship because women drink more to cope with the uncomfortable and often painful symptoms that come with PMS. Or it could be something else entirely.
Essentially, more research needs to be done to confirm or disprove this hypothesis. However, if you do suffer from moderate to severe PMS, curbing your alcohol intake and seeing how it affects your symptoms certainly cannot hurt.