For a subject that's still considered somewhat of a taboo in many — almost all? — cultures, there are sure a lot of urban myths or old wives' tales about menstruation! From the idea that exercise impacts menstrual flow to the belief that using parsley as a "kind of tampon" is a safe way to induce menstruation, and even stories that menstruating women can cause plants to die by touching them... it's high time to separate the "fake news" from the real facts.
One woman came to the SteadyHealth discussion boards to ask how drinking lemon juice might affect her periods:
"I've heard that drinking lemon juice may have an effect on the menstruation, as if enhances it, or make it "go away" faster... is any of truth in that or is it really stupid?? I appreciate your response, I've been looking for some answers on the internet but nothing has come up."
She — and now, probably, you — want answers. But you may also be curious what other women had to say on the subject. Let's go take a look!
Plenty of women descended on the thread to ask questions about lemon and menstruation:
- Do i just suck the juice out of the lemon or do I eat 2 lemons?
- How long will it take to stop and how long before it comes back?
- is any of truth in that or is it really stupid?
- Is lemon good for menstruation?
- Can small girls(say about 14-16) also drink lemon juice to delay thier periods.
Some women weighed in with their experiences:
- i have been drinking lemon juice and water for a two months and now that i have my period i only see the blood (very little) wen i wipe with a tissue.
- It works a lot.For warm water should put lemon juice and should drink it helps a lot.Will get relax.It does not have any effect according to me.
- Yes it shortens your period I tried it alot and it helped
- yesit wil work just eata lemon every day while on your cycle and it shorten it .
- yes it does make your period go away if u drink it a couple of days be4 it will stay away for 2 to 3 days i have tried it!
'Lemon doesn't work'
Other women, however, questioned the idea that drinking lemon juice could have any affect on periods:
- No, it sounds like this is just one of those wives tales.
- That wouldn't make sense.
- It does not work.
The SteadyHealth Team Reacts
Menstruation, the process through which the female body sheds the uterine lining if you didn't get pregnant that cycle, is a pretty unique thing — besides humans, only primates, some bats, and elephant shrews do it! An abundance of myths has arisen about menstruation over the course of human existence, but the idea that diet can influence the timing of your periods isn't a total fairy tale. The hormones estrogen, progesterone, and also testosterone help regulate menstrual cycles. Because your diet can affect your hormone levels, there's indeed some truth to the idea that what you eat and drink may delay or bring on periods.
Consider, for instance, that:
- Research has shown that drinking alcohol can mess with your menstrual cycle.
- A diet too rich in fiber can reduce estrogen levels, preventing ovulation.
- A diet rich in soybeans has been shown to reduce the surge in luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone typically seen around the time of ovulation.
You will also, of course, have heard that being malnourished can make the menstrual cycle grind to a halt.
So, does drinking lemon juice impact the menstrual cycle?
The person who started the discussion thread we're examining had heard that drinking lemon juice can reduce the duration of menstruation. Some others jumped in to share their opinions or experiences that lemon juice can make periods lighter or less crampy, while there were also those who were convinced that lemon juice does send menstrual flow packing — only to come back with a vengeance later, either in a few days or during the next cycle.
SteadyHealth's "in-house" doctor, Sasa Milosevic MD, shares:
"There are no large scientific studies which definitely prove the effects of lemon juice or other citrus on menstrual cycles in humans — but there are some interesting studies to consider.
The first two studies show some sort of interference between the normal estrous cycle and lime juice in animal models, probably by affecting the production of gonadotropin. The third study is an actual clinical trial which has shown that citrus aromatherapy can alleviate the symptoms of PMS, which also must be related with the interference with the levels of circulating hormones which regulate menstrual cycle.
However, given this low level of scientific evidence, it cannot be concluded with enough credibility that menstrual cycle can be altered by using citrus fruits."
Here, we have to consider the fact that rodents and humans are quite different — and estrous cycles and menstrual cycles aren't exactly the same thing. Finding relief from PMS symptoms by using citrus-based aromatherapy is nice, but that still doesn't mean drinking lemon juice delays periods or otherwise impacts menstrual flow.
Lemon juice: Good for periods after all?
There is, still, something cool you might want to know about lemon juice and periods, though — heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding (medically called menorrhagia) can lead to iron-deficiency anemia, a condition in which your blood doesn't carry enough oxygen to your body. Anemia can leave you feeling fatigued, dizzy, weak, and cold. It can make you short of breath and give you chest pains, too.
Vitamin C — of course found in lemon juice — helps the body absorb iron better, and can thus play a role in preventing or alleviating anemia. Lemon juice may be good for women during menstruation after all, then, but not for the reasons suggested.
Why do some women think lemon juice lightens their periods?
That just leaves one mystery — why do some women swear that drinking lemon juice shortens, lightens, or delays their periods? We can only come up with one answer, and that's coincidence. Especially when you consider the fact that some of the women on the thread said lemon juice did the trick for them, others said it didn't work, and yet others were convinced that lemon lightened their current period but induced a heavier one next month, we've got one phrase for you. That phrase is "correlation doesn't equal causation". You may just have a lighter-than-normal period if you drink lemon juice, but that doesn't mean the lemon juice was responsible.