A glass of wine literally solves a lot of problems.
It helps in relaxing your nerves after a shitty day and especially helps in calming yourself down during the worst periods ever. Yes, drinking a glass of your favorite liquor can help relax your periods and help sway those awful mood swings that are a pain in the ass (I have honestly been angry, cried, laughed, and showed no remorse in a matter of 15 minutes).
However, does liquid courage have any other effects on your body during your periods?
The average menstrual cycle is of 28 days, but it differs for different people. Most people have periods that last three to seven days. Throughout the period, the levels of estrogen and progesterone decrease to the lowest level, and there is a spike in the level of reproductive hormones at the end of the period.
When you drink alcohol, even a small amount of it can cause a minor spike in the levels of estrogen, which in turn can lead to an irregularity in ovulation, affecting the overall menstrual pattern:
1. It can make your period irregular.
As mentioned above, alcohol affecting hormones causes irregularity in the cycle and unexpected flow. Alcohol temporarily increases levels of estrogen and testosterone, which may hinder normal hormonal fluctuations that are necessary for ovulation. As a result, your periods may become irregular.
This again is a pain in the ass because a period in itself is bullshit, but unexpected periods are way more terrible.
2. You can experience longer-lasting PMS symptoms.
Despite any evidence of wine’s effectiveness as a muscle relaxant—which could arguably make it useful in calming cramps—the fact is the overall impact of alcohol on a system going through PMS is negative. Alcohol causes breast tenderness, migraines, body aches, stomach bloating, and mood swings which are terrible in reality but become aggrieved with further drinking.
So go slow and don’t gulp down that third drink.
According to sexologist Dr. Marie Stubbs, “Alcohol consumption can lead to dehydration, which can leave people more susceptible to cramps. Of course, many people suffer from menstrual cramps, so the consumption of alcohol can intensify this symptom.” Furthermore, according to The New York Times, alcohol consumption “may increase the risk for prolonged cramping (dysmenorrhea) during menstruation.” Not fun. At all.
3. It might affect your fertility.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the result of an increase in androgen hormones and results in ovarian cysts and no ovulation. Alcohol agitates the process and causes problems in women who have PCOS. Thus, an increase in irregular periods with missed periods occurring as a result of increased alcohol intake.
However, other research has found that for those without PCOS, there could be a weak association between low to moderate alcohol drinking and decreases in fertility. Other researchers have linked higher alcohol consumption to infertility, and some found no connection between alcohol and fertility at all. One reason for how alcohol could impact fertility is through increased levels of estrogen, which could inhibit follicular development and ovulation—but this is still only a theory.
The exact effect of alcohol consumption on fertility isn’t quite understood, although the overall effects of alcohol on the body are negative.
4. You’ll start dealing with an increase in stomach cramps.
Excess alcohol consumption might cause dehydration that results in an increase in the intensity of stomach cramps. It occurs as a result of the thickening of the menstrual fluids and causes clotting, which is painful again. However, this might or might not happen and differs among people.
Aside from these changes, you also end up losing a lot of your alcohol tolerance during hormonal changes in periods and might become intoxicated too fast. So go slow and don’t gulp down that third drink.
Unexpected periods are just that much more awful.
Of course, these are entirely general and might differ for everyone.
5. It can be a depressant (or make your depression worse).
This is the sucky truth: ultimately that cocktail, glass of wine, or beer will only serve to dampen your spirits. “When you first drink it, alcohol can make you feel happier or calmer. But alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. It depresses the activity of the brain,” says Dr. Cory Walker, assistant professor at the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine.
On top of that, if you’re already dealing with a mood disorder, the news isn’t great, either. People may feel a need to reach for a daily drink as a way to self-medicate. But doctors say that can be dangerous. “The risk is that they will develop physical and (psychological) dependence, and over time, the pleasurable effects diminish,” says Dr. Eric C. Strain, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and Research and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University.
So, what’s the solution?
For some, alcohol helps alleviate menstruation jitters. Ultimately, do whatever makes you feel happy during your seven days of hell but bear these negatives and the positives in mind.
If you are going to drink, don’t do so on an empty stomach.
Drink alcohol with a balanced meal.
Avoid sugary mixed drinks that can quickly raise glucose and insulin levels
Keep water on hand to stay hydrated
Drink in moderation – and enjoy!