Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when her period stops completely. As the female body ages, it gradually produces smaller amounts of reproductive hormones such as estrogen.
Reaching menopause means a woman is no longer fertile, and she can’t conceive children. The average age of menopause is 51 years old, but some women go through menopause in their 40s.
The onset of menopause is associated with symptoms that can sometimes be uncomfortable. These symptoms are caused by low levels of reproductive hormones and may include:
- hot flashes
- night sweats
- mood swings
- painful intercourse
- decreased sex drive
- skin changes, such as itchiness
The lack of hormones during menopause also increase a woman’s risks for:
A number of habits can affect the frequency and severity of menopause symptoms. Drinking alcohol appears to be one of them.
Women, men, and alcohol
As women (and men) age, their bodies become more sensitive to the effects of alcohol.
Alcohol affects women more than men because they usually have a lower body weight. This means they absorb alcohol more quickly.
Women also have less of the alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzymes in their stomach. As a result, their bodies can’t handle alcohol as well.
Hot flashes and other symptoms
Some menopausal women might find that alcohol triggers their symptoms, while others find that it helps relieve their symptoms.
Drinking alcohol increases the risk of disturbed sleep, according to
One survey found that women who drank alcohol daily were much more likely to report hot flashes and night sweats.
Women who drank alcohol at least once a month were less likely to have hot flashes than women who abstained entirely. Their hot flashes were also less severe.
However, clinical trials that look at the effects of beer consumption on menopausal women are needed. It’s also possible that nonalcoholic beer could provide the same benefits.
Most women can still drink during menopause, just not to excess. Major research on the connections between women’s health and alcohol consumption during menopause is summarized below.
Benefits of moderate alcohol consumption
Moderate alcohol consumption for women is defined as up to one drink per day, according to
According to a
Moderate drinking is also associated with a lower risk of:
Risks of excess alcohol consumption
A fine line separates a “moderate” amount of alcohol from too much alcohol.
Consuming two to five drinks a day during menopause is considered excessive and may harm a woman’s health, according to the North American Menopause Society.
Excess alcohol consumption during menopause is associated with an increased risk of conditions such as:
- heart problems
- liver disease
Increased cancer risk
This risk exists even for women who have just one serving of alcohol per day.
According to a 2002 review of studies, the risk of breast cancer is
According to a large 2009 study, an extra 10 grams of alcohol (1 drink) per day increases your risk for breast cancer by
Increased risk of heart disease, obesity, and organ damage
It also increases her risk for central obesity, the accumulation of weight mostly around the midsection. This type of obesity is a big factor in the development of heart disease.
Heavy drinking raises a woman’s risk for organ system problems, including damage to the:
Increased risk of osteoporosis and broken bones
Not only does heavy drinking
Increased risk of depression and alcoholism
Even in women without depression, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to alcohol use disorder.
When it comes to drinking during menopause, the amount matters. How much depends on your:
- personal health
- drinking history
- family history
Even small amounts of alcohol can interfere with certain medications. It’s important to talk to your doctor about the medications you take if you plan on drinking.
To maximize health benefits and minimize health risks during menopause, most healthy women should consume no more than one drink per day, or 7 drinks per week.
- 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled alcohol, which has an alcohol content of about 40 percent; this equals a shot glass
- 5 fluid ounces of wine at an alcohol content of about 12 percent
- 8 fluid ounces of malt liquor at an alcohol content of about 7 percent
- 12 fluid ounces of regular beer at an alcohol content of about 5 percent; this equals a standard bottle or can
Remember, every woman is different.
Moderate drinking, or one drink per day, during menopause can boost the health of some women. However, it may worsen symptoms or harm the health of others.
It’s important to talk to your doctor about whether it’s safe for you to drink.