Can Alcohol Affect Your Period? Reasons to Skip the Bar This Month
Posted byLibby Mullen
Curling up on the couch with a bottle of red and a cheesy rom com might sound like the perfect PMS cure. If you’ve tried this in the past, though, you might have woken up the next morning feeling worse than before. Here are a few reasons why.
Can Alcohol Affect Your Period?
A number of factors can intensify the cramps, moodiness and exhaustion associated with PMS, including drinking. According to The New York Times, “Alcohol worsens PMS symptoms and may increase the risk for prolonged cramping (dysmenorrhea) during menstruation.”1
PMS is also known to cause insomnia.2 Although it may be tempting to have a nightcap to lull you to dreamland, studies show that the sleep you get after drinking can be less restful than if you had slept sober. According to the journal Alcoholism Clinical & Experimental Research, the effect is stronger in women than men. “Total sleep time, sleep efficiency, nighttime awakenings, and wake after sleep onset were more disrupted in women than men.” As the alcohol begins wearing off, your sleep is more shallow, and you’re more likely to wake up in the middle of the night and still feel exhausted when you get up in the morning.3
From a longer-term perspective, a number of the risk factors for irregular periods can be aggravated by alcohol use. For example, increased alcohol consumption can cause stress, which can also cause your cycles to fall out of rhythm, as Empowher notes.4
What to Drink Instead
If you’re looking for a replacement, nonalcoholic drink to sip on while you’re out catching up with your buds, aim for sugar-free, noncaffeinated drinks. Caffeine can increase estrogen levels, which in turn can fuel PMS symptoms. Likewise, when you drink sugary substances, your body increases insulin production, which can lead to a nasty slump that will drain your energy reserves and also affect the quality of your sleep, says Empowher5
You’ve likely heard for years that you should be alternating your alcoholic drinks with full glasses of water to help diminish the dehydrating effects of booze. This is even more essential during your period, when drinking plenty of H2O is necessary to help keep your cramps at bay. Choosing to drink a water or a low-sugar juice can help reduce bloating and fluid retention.6
If you feel like you’re unable to control your drinking, or if your cramps are causing you concern, consult your doctor. Heavy alcohol consumption over a long period can have even worse effects on a woman’s reproductive system. According to the The New York Times, women with alcoholism are at a higher risk for absent periods, abnormal uterine bleeding and infertility.7
1. Premenstrual Syndrome In-Depth Report, New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/premenstrual-syndrome/print.html
2. Infographic: Sleep and Your Period, National Sleep Foundation. https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/infographic-sleep-and-your-period.
3. Arnedt, J. T. , Rohsenow, D. J., Almeida, A. B., Hunt, S. K., Gokhale, M., Gottlieb, D. J. and Howland, J., Sleep Following Alcohol Intoxication in Healthy, Young Adults: Effects of Sex and Family History of Alcoholism, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1530-0277.2010.01417.x/full
4. Stacy Lloyd, What’s the Deal With Irregular Periods?, Empowher. http://www.empowher.com/menstrual-cycle/content/what-s-deal-irregular-periods
5. Joanne Sgro-Killworth, What Not to Eat When It Is That time of Month, Empowher. http://www.empowher.com/providers/article/what-not-eat-when-it-time-month
6. Premenstrual Syndrome In-Depth Report, New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/premenstrual-syndrome/print.html
7. Alcohol Use Disorder, New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/alcoholism/possible-complications.html
- Posted by Libby Mullen
- On March 21, 2017