Perimenopause and Booze: how much is okay?
Perimenopause can be a total whirlwind, a time of uncertainty and for someone like me who likes structure, rules and certainty, it can be really hard to manage your expectations: When is my next period? Why are my periods heavier? Why am I bloated?
So a glass of wine at the end of the day can be a real lifesaver, take the edge off, help you unwind and decompress but is it the right thing to reach for especially during perimenopause when there's so much else going on in our bodies?
How much alcohol is okay during Perimenopause?
According to the Australian guidelines:
To reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury, healthy men and women should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day. The less you choose to drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol. For some people, not drinking at all is the safest option.
A standard drink contains 10g of pure alcohol. Many drinks have more than 1 standard drink in them. Check the label on your bottle or container, or refer to the Standard Drinks Guide, to see how many standard drinks are in it.
In my opinion as a Clinical Nutritionist with a special interest in women's health, I would say that for perimenopausal women it would be more appropriate to say no more than 5 standard drinks a week and no more than 2 drinks at any one time to protect themselves from exacerbating peri symptoms.How does alcohol affect Perimenopause symptoms
I know most women aren't going to like this and I’m sorry to share the news: drinking any alcohol during the Perimenopause transition is going to increase your chances of symptoms or exacerbate any you are already experiencing.
None or reducing alcohol is best and here's why:
- Sleep - it stuffs up your sleep. Long term use of alcohol reduces your melatonin levels and disrupts your circadian rhythm. It will also increase night sweats and hot flashes: all of which disrupt your sleep
- It damages your gut microbiome
- Stimulates overeating the next day
- Makes it harder to build healthy bones and muscles, which is already challenging in perimenopause.
- It impairs oestrogen metabolism.
There are studies both saying that alcohol reduces and increase hot flashes. It's about moderation and what your body can tolerate.
Why not try an experiment?
Only you know what's truly best for you. We're not the boss of you and neither is any one else. We're big fans of each of us tuning in to our unique selves. To find out how alcohol affects you, experiment!
Try 4 weeks of not drinking alcohol and make a journal how you feel along the way: are there any changes in the quality of your sleep? Any differences in your energy levels or mood leading up to your period? How are you energy levels?
Then when you reintroduce alcohol slowly and gently - from there you can tune into what works for you: maybe certain types of alcohol might not agree with you, the timing i.e. no alcohol before the lead up to your period, or the amount you can drink.
Or, you find during those four weeks off, you had boundless energy, unreal sleep, you felt more yourself, your moods stabilised and you know what? Never going back, thanks! But only you can know.
Once, after a rough day after two glasses of wine the night before, I decided to give this experiment a go. I worked out from that, I can’t tolerate wine these days but learnt that I can enjoy (and tolerate!) a gin and tonic when the urge hits without feeling ratpoo the next day.
I don’t really drink much anymore and don’t crave it. I can go weeks without anything. When I feel like a drink, I have these three alternative go-to's on standby:
1. Kombucha in a bottle, it feels like I’m having a beer. So many fun flavours now.
2. Sparking water in a wine glass, it makes it feel like an occasion.
3. Peri Chai Latte in my favourite mug - soothes me way better than alcohol, feels cosy and comforting and like I'm taking really good care of myself.
We know alcohol is a big one for so many of us. We would love to hear about your relationship with alcohol through perimenopause, add your comments below.
How much alcohol is safe to drink?
Lara Briden ND, Hormone Repair Manual