The link between gambling and your menstrual cycle

My Hormonology

The link between gambling and your menstrual cycle


  • Women are more likely to gamble at ovulation
  • Women place riskier bets at ovulation
  • Women gamble more premenstrually if they experience down moods

Enjoy visiting casinos, buying scratch-off lottery tickets or playing a few hands of poker with your pals? If so, you’re certainly not alone. Gambling is a popular form of entertainment…all the way up until the moment you lose your rent money and are visiting your parents’ house just to raid their fridge. Then, it suddenly becomes a lot less fun.

On top of that, there’s that whole risk of a few occasional dalliances with betting turning into a full-blown gambling addiction. That’s a result of the flood of brain chemicals that give you a heady rush (such as dopamine) whenever you think you’re about to win or, on much rarer occasions, actually do win. Experiencing this kind of euphoria can give you the urge to trigger it again and again with more wagers. This, of course, isn’t ideal since most folks end up losing far more cash than they win.

This risk of developing an addiction is why researchers recently examined gambling behavior among women with menstrual cycles. They wanted to find out if fluctuating hormones have the potential to make women who enjoy gambling more likely to give in to the urge, putting them on the path to addiction.(1)

What the researchers discovered

After examining the gambling behavior of 53 female gamblers across one menstrual cycle, the researchers came up with two key takeaways:

  • Women are more likely to gamble at ovulation and place riskier bets.
  • Women are more likely to gamble during their premenstrual phase if they experience down moods.

What’s behind these spikes in a desire to wager?

During ovulation, peaking estrogen prompts the brain to churn out more euphoria-spurring brain chemicals when you gamble, making the activity feel even more rewarding compared to other phases of your cycle.

And, women who experience down moods during their premenstrual phase due to plunging estrogen may be using gambling as a way to cope with sadness or negativity. It acts as a distraction and produces a temporary mood boost.

What this means for you

If you get the urge to gamble, keep track of where you are in your menstrual cycle: If you’re in a phase where you’re likely to place more or bigger bets, keep this cycle information in mind and create a pre-set limit for how much you’re willing to wager. Then, hide all your debit cards and diamond earrings so you’re not tempted to go over.

Need help breaking a gambling habit? Gamblers Anonymous has chapters all over the world.

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(1) “Retrospective and prospective assessments of gambling-related behaviors across the female menstrual cycle,” Journal of Behavioral Addictions, January 2019,

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