Alcohol consumption and menstrual distress in women at higher and lower risk for alcoholism

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1990 Apr;14(2):152-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.1990.tb00462.x.


This study investigated whether alcohol consumption varied as a function of menstrual cycle, menstrual distress symptomatology, and global stress in nonalcoholic drinking young women at higher and lower (HR, LR) risk for alcoholism as assessed by family history. Eighty-two normally menstruating women (52 LR and 30 HR) monitored their alcohol intake, physical and affective distress symptoms, and global stress level daily for two consecutive menstrual cycles. Subjects were unaware that their menstrual cycles were being monitored. The results confirmed the presence of increased physical distress symptomatology during the premenstrual and menstrual phases but did not show variation in negative affect or global stress throughout the menstrual cycle. High risk subjects were aware that they were at higher risk for alcoholism and consumed more alcohol. However, alcohol consumption was not related to the menstrual cycle, distress symptoms, or global stress. Subjects reported that they drank most frequently with others for pleasure enhancement and rarely for pain or tension-reduction. Subjects also drank more on weekends than weekdays. These findings argue against the menstrual cycle as etiological in the development of alcoholism. It would appear that social factors influence alcohol consumption in young nonalcoholic women.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / genetics*
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Personality Tests
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / psychology*
  • Risk Factors