Effects of menstrual cycle and female sex steroids on ethanol pharmacokinetics

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1999 Feb;23(2):250-5.


This study investigated the influence of menstrual cycle and female sex steroid levels on ethanol pharmacokinetics. In a within-subjects design, 24 female volunteers each consumed 0.67 g x kg(-1) ethanol during the menstrual and luteal phases of their menstrual cycle. On each test day, we collected blood samples before ethanol administration to determine estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P) levels and to confirm ovulation. We took 20 or more postdrink breath ethanol concentration readings and examined pharmacokinetic differences between the two phases, using classical pharmacokinetic measures, as well as Michaelis-Menten measures. Despite highly significant differences in measured E2 as well as P levels on the 2 test days, and despite excluding subjects with anovulatory cycles from the analysis, there were no significant differences between menstrual and luteal phases for any of the pharmacokinetic variables. We found no correlation between E2 or P levels and any of the pharmacokinetic measures. In summary, we found no evidence that the tested menstrual cycle phases or varying E2 and progesterone levels significantly influence ethanol pharmacokinetics. Because previous studies about the topic have used few subjects and revealed controversial results, we consider our negative findings based on 24 subjects meaningful.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Area Under Curve
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / pharmacokinetics*
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Estrogens / blood
  • Estrogens / physiology*
  • Ethanol / pharmacokinetics*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Menstrual Cycle / blood
  • Menstrual Cycle / physiology*
  • Progesterone / blood


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Estrogens
  • Ethanol
  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol