Which cycle days you’re likely to drink more alcohol

My Hormonology

Which cycle days you’re likely to drink more alcohol



Planning to throw back a cocktail (or two or five) during the holidays?

If so, you should pay close attention to research that shows how your cycle impacts how much alcohol you consume. After all, nursing a nagging hangover probably isn’t the way you want to spend your holiday season.

The cycle days you want to drink more

Turns out, the stress of dealing with family members and the desire to make a party merrier aren’t the only reasons you might reach for beer, wine or spirits.

Research shows that hormone fluctuations trigger a desire for alcohol, too. Here’s what the studies show:

1. You reach for more alcohol during Week 2 of your cycle (the week leading up to and including ovulation). 

According to two new studies (this and this), high estrogen makes the effects of alcohol feel more pleasurable by sending reward centers in your brain into overdrive.

As a result, you may drink more frequently and to excess on these cycle days.

This Week 2 super-sized pleasure sensation also trains your brain to want alcohol again the next time your Week 2 rolls around because it knows you’ll experience the same intensely rewarding feeling. This might explain that sudden craving for your favorite microbrew, Merlot or Santa’s Little Helper cocktail once your estrogen starts to spike.

One of these studies found that that this excess-drinking effect occurred only on the weekend, suggesting that you’re probably aware that overimbibing can make work the next day so much more difficult to slog through, so you curtail it. However, if you get extra days off for the holidays, there’s a risk that your abundant weekend drinking can spill over, so to speak, into your weekdays, too.

2. You may be more likely to drink during your premenstrual Week 4 (the 6 days leading up to your next period).

Several studies show that women are more likely to consume alcohol premenstrually–likely as a way to deal with mood issues, such as sadness or anxiety. However, there are other studies that contradict this, so researchers consider this inconclusive right now.

That said, if you notice that you’re reaching for a tipple more often on the days leading up to your period, consider yourself like the women studied in the collection of research that shows a rise in premenstrual drinking so you can be more aware of it.

Party pooper alert: I wouldn’t be doing my job here as a women’s health journalist if I didn’t point out that regularly consuming alcohol in excess can lead to many health issues, which includes a higher risk of certain cancers (including the breast, mouth, throat and colon), depression and heart disease. So, if you drink, please do so in moderation.

If you or someone you know has an alcohol problem, help is available. Click here for more information.

Never miss a Hormonology tip!
Subscribe to the free Hormonology newsletter and get helpful tips & the latest research in your inbox:
I love cycle-related tips, sign me up!


Follow me
Latest posts by Gabrielle Lichterman (see all)