01 Aug 2013

Joe, You Gotta Go! 4 Great Reasons to Say “So-Long” to Caffeine

If you’re experiencing menopausal symptoms and you’ve done any research at all, one of the recommendations you’ve likely seen is to give up caffeine. This is not great news for many of us! Caffeine is addictive and the morning coffee ritual may be deeply ingrained.

I feel your pain.

But here’s why this is important. Caffeine opens up your blood vessels (that’s why it’s found in many headache meds). And if you’re having hot flashes, the last thing you need is blood vessels opened wide! You have enough of that without adding to the misery. It’s been scientifically proven that caffeine increases the number and severity of hot flashes.

Some lesser known reasons to give up caffeine are just as important. Your morning java kicks your adrenal glands into overdrive, stimulating the production of cortisol. I’ve written about cortisol before (you can check that out here), but in case you missed it, this hormone stimulates weight gain and contributes to all kinds of chronic problems. Too much cortisol also affects the ability of estrogen and progesterone to do their jobs. In addition, if your adrenals are already tired, flogging with them caffeine will make recovery that much more difficult. Been there, done that.

Not sleeping well? Caffeine (even if consumed in the morning) may be making this worse. Some people are slow metabolizers…meaning that it takes longer to be eliminated from your body. If you’re sleep-deprived, your morning jolt may seem like a good plan…but it’s a quick-fix…and you’ll pay later.

And last but not least, high caffeine intake can contribute to bone loss. This is especially problematic for post-menopausal women since they lose the protective effects of estrogen on bone.

How to Break up with Caffeine

There are 2 ways to give up caffeine.

Cold turkey. This is best done when you have a few days where you don’t have to be on your “A” game. Or around any people. Have some ibuprofen handy. You’ll feel foggy and tired and most likely have a raging headache, but this method is “quick and dirty” and payoff at the end is worth it.

Gradual taper (my preferred method). You can begin to mix decaf coffee into your regular coffee in increasing proportions. Start with ¾ regular and ¼ decaf and work your way down over a period of a few weeks. You’ll still get some grogginess, but it’s a much less brutal way to break up than cold turkey!

One More Thing….

If you’re worried you might lose your edge if you quit caffeine, remember this: your body and mind are not designed to be “on” all day, every day. Really, we’re not.

Your body works best when you honor the natural cycles of energy and alertness followed by rest and relaxation. That period of rest is so important because that’s when detoxification and repair happens. Allowing yourself downtime will reduce your dependency on caffeine, increase your productivity and decrease your stress over the long run.

Dr. Anna Garrett


  1. Sue Sullivan Says: August 1, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Anna, you make me so happy I gave up caffeine years ago. I have fibrocystic breasts. The doctor recommended I get off caffeine because they thought, at that time, that caffeine would increase my chance of getting breast cancer. When I stopped consuming caffeine, I noticed my breasts no longer hurt before my period.

    A couple years later, the doctor told me they no longer believed caffeine increased the risk of breast cancer, and I could go back to consuming it. There was no way I was going back to that breast pain. I’ve been off ever since. Now, I’m glad for all the reasons you listed above. Yippee 🙂

  2. Thanks for all the information!! I’m relaly bad about this, I admit. I have somewhat enormous boobs, and I find it incredibly difficult to perform an exam. They always feel different, they always feel lumpy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone, Oh.. was that something? only to not be able to find the same spot again. It is incredibly frustrating. This is a great reason to continue to lose weight, though!I also have a question. I thought heart disease was the leading killer among women? Is breast cancer 2nd of everything, or 2nd among cancer related deaths??

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