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Alcohol and Period: The Surprising Truth About Drinking on Your Period

Can drinking while you’re on your period make you feel better or worse? Many women aren't sure about the link between alcohol consumption and their periods, and anecdotal accounts may be misleading. Here are some popular FAQs about the correlation between drinking and your period.

Alcohol and period

While you may crave a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage while you have your period — especially when you have PMS — drinking while you’re on your period can adversely impact your hormone levels. Alcohol can increase the production of both estrogen and testosterone in the body. Too much of either can exacerbate PMS symptoms, especially mood swings and irritability. 

Although you can drink during your period, how much you drink and what you drink can affect how you feel. And even a little drinking can result in fetal alcohol syndrome, especially early on in a pregnancy.

You may notice that your alcohol tolerance is lower during your period as well. While every body is different, understanding that you may be more likely to get intoxicated faster during your period can help you make responsible drinking choices. 

For ladies who drink regularly, fluctuations in hormones can lead to irregular ovulation and periods. Chronic alcohol use can cause reproductive issues, including difficulty conceiving and complete cessation of your menstrual cycle.

For your period and ovulation to be regular, your body needs the proper balance of estrogen and progestin, released in specific amounts. The effects of alcohol on your hormone balance can make ovulation irregular or make it stop entirely.

Anecdotal evidence from some women may suggest that alcohol can dull the feeling of cramps while drinking. However, alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it dehydrates you. After a night of drinking, you’ll likely be dehydrated, which can worsen cramps.

Many health professionals recommend increasing your water intake during your period. Your abdominal muscles and uterus will cramp less if you’re well-hydrated. Plenty of water also thins the blood and mucus that make up most of the menstrual fluid, which makes it easier for your body to pass it. If you’re dehydrated, then you’re likely to have more cramps, in addition to the rest of the symptoms of a hangover.

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it dehydrates you. After a night of drinking, you’ll likely be dehydrated, which can worsen cramps.

Ultimately, every woman’s body is different. Many people may feel more relaxed with a glass of wine or a cocktail when they’re on their period, which can help ease cramping. The relaxing effects of 1 or 2 drinks may help you feel better; just be sure to drink plenty of water when you consume alcohol.

Menstrual blood is different from the rest of the blood in your body. In addition to blood itself, the uterus contains mucus that forms the uterine lining, which is shed during menstruation. Menstrual blood includes this mucus, blood, and uterine tissue. 

After an evening of drinking you’re likely to be dehydrated. The dehydrating effects of alcohol may make the menstrual fluid thicker and thus harder to pass.

A woman drinks tea on her period

For people who notice that they become intoxicated more quickly on their periods, drinking fruity cocktails with a high sugar content can intensify the effects of the alcohol by creating a spike in your blood sugar. 

Flavored sparkling water or a “mocktail” are good options for when you need to abstain from alcohol at a social event or bar. If you do choose to drink alcohol, be sure to drink more water than usual to stay well-hydrated.

Coffee can also worsen symptoms of PMS. It increases your blood pressure and resting heart rate, which can exacerbate tension and anxiety. Tea, sparkling water, or juice are better options during this time of your cycle.

Drinking alcohol can negatively affect fertility. The effects of alcohol on your hormones may cause irregular or absent ovulation. In addition, alcohol can shift when in your cycle you ovulate. For couples trying to conceive, this means that if you’re hoping to target your fertile window, your timing could be off.

The exact effect of alcohol consumption on fertility isn’t quite understood, although the overall effects of alcohol on the body are negative. Overconsumption, considered more than 4 drinks in one sitting or more than 8 drinks per week, can have long-term effects on blood pressure and heart health. During pregnancy and while trying to conceive, these conditions can be dangerous for both mother and baby.

Drinking alcohol can negatively affect fertility. The effects of alcohol on your hormones may cause irregular or absent ovulation. In addition, alcohol can shift when in your cycle you ovulate.

If you and your partner are considering IVF or fertility drugs, drinking alcohol can reduce their effectiveness and decrease your chances of viable implantation and live birth. If both partners are moderate to heavy drinkers, the chances of conception drop even further, as alcohol has a negative effect on the number and viability of sperm. 

Although a glass of wine or craft beer may be a relaxing treat to help you relax during your period, consume alcohol judiciously when you have your period or if you're trying to conceive. Make sure if you do drink that you get plenty of water in addition to your cocktail, and always drink responsibly. 

https://www.alcohol.org/effects/blood-clots/

https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh26-4/274-281.htm

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/female-fertility/art-20045887

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