Premenstrual food cravings are the punchline of endless jokes. Like most good jokes, they're funny because they're true.

Certain parts of a woman's menstrual cycle do seem to go hand in hand with the desire for chocolate ice cream and potato chips. I hear about this every day from my OBGYN patients.

Researchers have studied food cravings for years; one of the most cited studies dates back to 1953. Scientists – and lots of others – want to know who has food cravings and why, what they crave, when they crave it and how to minimize the cravings. Here's what the research has found.

Craving and eating before a period

Food cravings are just one of the many symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, also known as PMS. PMS is likely caused by hormonal fluctuations and how they affect chemical messengers in the brain called neurotransmitters. Its symptoms are exclusive to the second half of the menstrual cycle. This luteal phase of the cycle starts with the release of the egg at ovulation and ends when a period begins. The symptoms usually resolve around the third or fourth day of menstruation.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High students returned from spring break this week to a find a new safety precaution in place: mandatory clear backpacks.

To many students, the move — implemented after a shooter killed 17 people on their campus in February — fails to address the real root cause of gun violence: a lack of gun control.

"They’re just an illusion of security," senior Kyra Parrow said, blasting the backpacks.

"My new backpack is almost as transparent as the NRA’s agenda," student Lauren Hogg mocked on Twitter. "I feel sooo safe now."



(Of course, policies like this are nothing new to students in primarily black and brown schools.)

Keep Reading Show less
More

This 21-year-old superhero has an amazing idea to help save people who get periods.

Many Americans don’t have access to tampons and pads. Claire Coder is fixing that.

Anyone who has ever gotten their period at an inopportune time knows the scramble to find a menstrual product.

There's the “sneakily ask all co-workers for a tampon” move. Or the frantic search for a quarter to use at one of those vending machine-style boxes in some restrooms. (Though, let's be honest, they're rarely stocked.)

Entrepreneur Claire Coder found herself in this very predicament at a cisgender male-dominated business event in 2016. There weren’t exactly a bunch of people rushing to help when her period arrived, so she had to come up with a reason to leave the event early.

Keep Reading Show less
More

A gynecologist tweeted about periods, and a great discussion about gender happened.

A trending hashtag started an important conversation about what words we use.

How would the world be different if men had periods?

It's certainly not a new question. More than 40 years ago, Gloria Steinem wrote "If Men Could Menstruate," a sharply satirical take on how society treats men versus women.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Keep Reading Show less
More