Alcohol intake, reproductive hormones, and menstrual cycle function: a prospective cohort study

Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Oct;102(4):933-42. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.102160. Epub 2015 Aug 19.


Background: Although habitual low-to-moderate alcohol intake has been linked with reduced all-cause mortality and morbidity, the effect of recent alcohol intake on female reproductive function has not been clearly established.

Objective: We assessed the relation between acute alcohol consumption, reproductive hormones, and markers of menstrual cycle dysfunction including sporadic anovulation, irregular cycle length, luteal phase deficiency, long menses, and heavy blood loss.

Design: A total of 259 healthy, premenopausal women from Western New York were followed for ≤2 menstrual cycles (2005-2007) and provided fasting blood specimens during ≤8 visits/cycle and four 24-h dietary recalls/cycle. Linear mixed models were used to estimate associations between previous day's alcohol intake and hormone concentrations, whereas Poisson regression was used to assess RR of cycle-average alcohol intake and menstrual cycle function.

Results: For every alcoholic drink consumed, the geometric mean total and free estradiol, total and free testosterone, and luteinizing hormone were higher by 5.26% (95% CI: 1.27%, 9.41%), 5.82% (95% CI: 1.81%, 9.99%), 1.56% (95% CI: 0.23%, 2.90%), 1.42% (95% CI: 0.02%, 2.84%), and 6.18% (95% CI: 2.02%, 10.52%), respectively, after adjustment for age, race, percentage of body fat, perceived stress, pain-medication use, sexual activity, caffeine, and sleep. Binge compared with nonbinge drinking (defined as reporting ≥4 compared with <4 drinks/d, respectively) was associated with 64.35% (95% CI: 18.09%, 128.71%) and 63.53% (95% CI: 17.41%, 127.73%) higher total and free estradiol. No statistically significant associations were shown between cycle-average alcohol intake and menstrual cycle function.

Conclusion: Although recent moderate alcohol intake does not appear to have adverse short-term effects on menstrual cycle function, including sporadic anovulation, potential protective and deleterious long-term effects of alterations in reproductive hormones on other chronic diseases warrant additional investigation.

Keywords: alcohol; estradiol; menstrual cycle; ovulation; progesterone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Anovulation / blood
  • Anovulation / etiology
  • Anovulation / physiopathology
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Menstrual Cycle / blood*
  • Mental Recall
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • New York
  • Premenopause / blood
  • Progesterone / blood
  • Prospective Studies
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Young Adult


  • Testosterone
  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol
  • Luteinizing Hormone