Growing up as a young girl, menstrual cramps were very prevalent among my friends. It was more severe for some than others but it was nonetheless a cause for concern for many. It got easier for a lot of us; maybe because it actually does get easier with age or maybe because many have devised ways to lessen the pain. We did get so many advises on how to relieve the pain and one of them was: Stay away from sugar during your period and in fact days before your period. I always wondered: Do sweet things cause menstrual cramps? Is there a correlation?
Actually, menstrual cramps are caused by high levels of a hormone known as prostaglandin. When prostaglandin gets into the bloodstream as the endometrial lining as being broken down, the uterus goes into spasm. It is this spasm and uterus contractions that cause the cramps. Several other factors can be responsible for the release of prostaglandin.
When you eat sugar, sweet foods and drinks and anything that would spike your sugar level quickly, one of the ways the body reacts is by releasing prostaglandins among other chemicals. Now, you see the connection: sweet things cause menstrual cramps. This, however, is not the only cause of the release of prostaglandin. Stress also is another trigger factor.
Asides sugary foods, excess dairy foods (ice cream, cheese and the rest), caffeine and red meat may also stimulate the female hormonal system in a negative way, causing cramps and other discomforts that come with menstruation.
There are also some foods that help lower prostaglandin; you could eat more of those to control painful cramps. Some of them include whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, pasta) and foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids(mackerel, soybeans, sardines and walnuts)
So to the question above: Yes, your mum was not wrong. Sugary foods and refined foods can increase the severity of menstrual cramps.