Alcohol and Menopause

Menopause and Alcohol: A Guide to Balance

Friday nights are not what they used to be! Do you find that you can't drink as much as you used to? Seem to get drunk faster or have worse hangovers? You’re not alone.

Perimenopause and menopause can be a challenging time; having fun and a social drink with friends is often needed to destress and unwind! But as you journey through perimenopause and menopause, you may notice changes in your relationship with alcohol. Ageing brings about many shifts in our bodies, and the way we react to alcohol is no exception


The Hidden Link Between Alcohol and Menopause 

While it might not be immediately obvious, alcohol consumption can significantly impact a woman's experience of menopause. Here's how:

1. Increased sensitivity to alcohol during menopause

One noticeable change with age is a heightened sensitivity to alcohol. Did you know that our bodies retain less water over time? So any alcohol consumed when we’re older becomes less diluted, which likely explains why you may feel hungover after only drinking a few drinks.

2. Alcohol and hormonal fluctuations in menopause

For some women, alcohol can become a trigger for their symptoms. While the evidence on this topic varies, it’s not uncommon for women to report that alcohol, especially red wine, can trigger hot flushes and night sweats, and also make them more frequent and intense.

3. The impact of alcohol on mental health

The roller coaster of mood swings and heightened emotions are common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. As alcohol is a depressant, it can exacerbate feelings of sadness, anxiety, and irritability and leave you feeling low the next day.

4. Sleep disturbances in menopause and alcohol

If you're already dealing with sleep problems related to menopause, alcohol can further complicate matters. While a glass or two might seem like a nightcap that will aid your sleep, it actually has the opposite effect. Alcohol disrupts your sleep cycle, reducing the quality of your sleep and worsening the broken sleep you're trying to help.

5. Long-term consequences of excessive drinking during menopause

As we age it's important to also consider the long-term consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. After a decade or more of regularly drinking more than 14 units per week (6 glasses (175ml) of wine), the risks of numerous conditions and diseases have been shown to significantly rise. These include osteoporosis and bone fractures, breast cancer, heart disease, and a decline in mental health, including depression. Moreover, excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of various cancers, stroke, and can lead to damage in the liver and nervous system.

To calculate the amount of alcohol you're drinking try using the DrinkWise online calciulator. you may be surprised how quickly the units add up.


Tips for reducing alcohol consumption during menopause

For those seeking to reduce alcohol intake during perimenopause and menopause, here are some practical tips to get you started:

1.  Plan ahead

Set a reduced drink limit and monitor your weekly units. Gradually reduce the amount of alcohol in your home and establish a clear alcohol budget for the week. Opt for smaller glasses for your drinks and explore low-alcohol or alcohol-free alternatives.

2. Create a strategy

Dedicate several alcohol-free days each week and plan activities in advance to occupy your time. Whether it's taking a stroll, indulging in a relaxing bath, trying out a new recipe, or enjoying your favorite TV shows, having alternative activities in mind can help shift your focus from alcohol. On days when you do decide to drink, delaying your first glass can reduce overall consumption.

3.  Discover alternatives

Familiarise yourself with the world of no and low-alcohol beverage options. These days we're lucky to have a wide selection of these to choose from. When dining out, inquire about their no and low alcohol options. 

4.  Stay hydrated and eat smart

Avoid dehydration by staying well-hydrated and never drinking on an empty stomach (we've all been there!). Prior to drinking, have a meal or something to eat to help mitigate the effects of the alcohol. Consider putting your hand up to being the designated driver or try avoiding rounds when out with friends to slow you down.

5.  Engage with supportive friends and family

If discussing your decision to cut down on alcohol with loved ones feels challenging, prepare a few phrases in advance to communicate your intentions. Phrases like 'I'm pacing myself' or 'I'm trying to cut back' can help convey your goals. Finding a no or low alcohol drinking buddy among your friends can provide valuable support, and sharing your goal with supportive loved ones can help you stay accountable.


Remember, we are all different, and only you know yourself best. If you do want to drink alcohol, think about the choice you make: try diluting drinks by adding extra mixers or enjoy a wine spritzer instead. Slow down and take your time to savour and enjoy the few drinks you have, and be mindful that your symptoms may feel worse over the next few days.



Discover our range of clean and evidance-based supplements developed to  support your body and your needs before, during and after this transitionary life stage.


This article has been reviewed by our expert advisory team. 

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