While it’s no secret that smoking cigarettes can negatively impact your health, did you know that smoking can also affect your period? Because it can.
According to a handful of recent studies, women who smoke experience much worse PMS than those who don’t. This includes a heightened risk of having chronically painful periods. The painfulness of cramps increases as a woman ups the number of cigarettes she smokes.
Along with the amount of cigarettes a woman smokes, the age that she started smoking seems to be particularly important. The risk of developing severe PMS tends to increase with women who began smoking during adolescence and young adulthood.
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst found, “Cigarette smoking may plausibly influence the development of PMS through its effect on estrogen, progesterone, androgen, and gonadotropin levels.” Women who smoke experience shorter and more irregular menstrual cycles.
Additionally, smoking can decrease in the amount of oxygen available to the uterus and constrict the blood vessels, which could make period pain worse.
Despite the risks, light smoking is growing in popularity among young women. This is due to a variety of factors including perhaps “because young adulthood is a time of stress and anxiety.” As the CDC notes, even light smoking can be unsafe, increasing the risk of health problems including experiencing worsened PMS and/or an irregular cycle, an increased risk of developing cancer of the cervix, and much more.
While quitting smoking cigarettes can be extremely difficult (and it’s notably harder for women), the silver lining here is that your menstrual cycle can actually help you quit. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that women who quit smoking during the first two weeks of their cycle experience less severe withdrawal than those who quit during the latter half of their period.
If/when you decide to quit smoking, there are tons of resources and support groups available to help you on your journey!