You can eat spicy food while on your period, but you run the risk of digestive issues and magnified menstrual symptoms. Those that eat spicy food on a regular basis are less likely to run into issues, but most medical professionals recommend that you wait until your period clears.
Spicy foods are a guilty pleasure for many, and there are several downsides to eating them while on your period. There are also some benefits to consider, along with reasons your body is craving spicy food at such a sensitive time.
The Downside of Eating Spicy Food While on Your Period
Spicy food can be tempting while you are on your period, but most experts recommend against them until you get through your cycle. Odds are that you already feel poorly at best. You might be dealing with issues like fatigue, cramping, or lower back pain.
Spicy foods can magnify these issues, and they are also likely to lead to other issues such as:
- Diarrhea (making it more difficult to stay hydrated)
- Stomach pain
Spicy food is especially detrimental to your bowel movements, and this makes an already difficult time miserable. Consuming spicy food can make it more difficult to go to the restroom.
The severity of these issues changes from person to person. If you already react poorly to spicy food then they should be avoided at all costs while on your period. Those that eat spicy food on a regular basis may be able to continue without any issues.
Spicy Food and Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a chronic illness in which cells resembling the lining of the uterus (endometrial cells) grow outside the uterus. Pain tends to be worse around the menstruation period, and it might be especially important for anyone with endometriosis to avoid spicy food at this time.
On the other hand, one study found that curcumin (a biologically active polyphenolic compound found in the spice turmeric) can inhibit the growth of endometrial cells.
While more research is needed to determine how effective curcumin is at reducing estradiol production, turmeric supplements may provide unique benefits.
Benefits of Eating Spicy Food While on Your Period
Most benefits of eating spicy food while on your period operate on a case-by-case basis, and what works for one person may not work for another.
Herbs and spices carry many health benefits overall, including:
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Anti-cancer properties
- Anti-hypertensive properties
Some, such as cinnamon, turmeric, and fennel, actually battle common PMS symptoms. It is suggested that anyone looking for spices or supplements consult a doctor before starting up any dose. Your doctor can help you navigate the world of truth and lies surrounding supplements and your period, saving you time and money. Try to work with spices or spicy food that are not processed, and consume everything in moderation. In many cases, improper portions can lead to the downsides of spicy foods.
Better Spicy Food Options
Raw spicy food and spices are recommended over processed spicy food, including:
- Fresh chiles
Try to stick to food that is milder. Hotter peppers like habanero or ghost peppers should be avoided, at least until you have completed your menstrual cycle.
Why You Might Crave Spicy Food on Your Period
If you already eat plenty of spicy food on a regular basis then there is a good chance that you will crave it while you are on your period. Some spicy foods that are common to crave include:
- Hot Cheetos
- Hot sauce/salsa
There is no definitive reason that anyone craves spicy food while on their period, but it is assumed that spicy food can be a mood booster. Spicy food is believed to trigger endorphins, similar to sugar.
This is much more likely to happen if you already enjoy spicy food, but you can crave spicy food as someone who does not seek it out often.
You can give in to this craving, but you might be better off finding another way to trigger endorphins. Exercise, meditation, and laughter are great alternatives that run little risk of making you feel worse.
Can Spicy Food Cause an Early Period?
Certain spices, such as turmeric, are known to be emmenagogues. These herbs are known to stimulate the body and cause the start of menstruation, and they have been used throughout history to induce periods.
Emmenagogues are more common in alternative medicine practices. They stimulate blood flow in the uterus and cause contractions that can lead to an early period, but there is no guaranteed timeline that they operate on.
Again, it is suggested to consult a medical professional before attempting to use spicy food in this way.
While some people can eat spicy food while on their period without issue, it is generally recommended against. It is better to stick with a clear list of foods and spices that have little to no ill effects on your body during this time, and you can start up with the spicy food again when your period passes.