Wine Exacerbates PMS

It’s hard to avoid the alluring generalization that red wine is “good” for you, especially given so many studies showing particular health benefits. But at least one place red wine, or alcohol of any kind, is not recommended (but where it may feel sorely needed) is during pre-menstrual syndrome.

Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, better known as PMS, is a cyclical hormonal and chemical fluctuation that afflicts three out of four women worldwide, with a distressing rainbow of symptoms spanning the gamut from bloating, cramps, and acne to depression, irritability, and social withdrawal. Not every woman with PMS gets every symptom, and all women get them to different degrees of intensity (with some requiring medication, even hospitalization). One thing many women, reasonably, have in common at times of emotional and physical distress: reaching for a glass of wine, or some kind of alcohol.

Despite any evidence of wine’s effectiveness as a muscle relaxant—which could arguably make it useful in calming cramps—the fact is the overall impact of alcohol on a system going through PMS is negative. Booze can actually increase physical symptoms like breast tenderness and headaches and exacerbate mood fluctuations (which alcohol already does when we’re not dealing with PMS). Even the promise of reduced cramping is likely less than guaranteed. According to The New York Times, alcohol consumption “may increase the risk for prolonged cramping (dysmenorrhea) during menstruation.” Alcohol can also contribute to magnesium deficiencies, and magnesium may actually help with bloating.

So while it may be extremely tempting to have a glass of wine during PMS, bear in mind it might be making your symptoms worse. Every woman’s experience is different, but if you can wait a few days, or partake in moderation, you might be better off.