In Brief: What’s the Connection Between Alcohol and Premenstrual Symptoms?

In Brief: What’s the Connection Between Alcohol and Premenstrual Symptoms?

By |2018-09-10T12:34:19+00:00May 7th, 2018|PMS and PMDD|2 Comments

When we meet with women reporting premenstrual symptoms, we often recommend that they avoid the use of alcohol.  

Analyzing 19 previously published studies of alcohol and PMS, researcher found that risk for PMS risk was 45% higher in women who reported drinking than in non-drinkers.  Women who were heavy drinkers, drinking more than one drink per day) were 79% more likely to have PMS than non-drinkers.

While this study documents an association between heavy alcohol and PMS, there could be a chicken and egg issue here.  Does heavy alcohol cause PMS? Or are women with PMS more likely to drink alcohol to cope with their symptoms of depression and anxiety?

Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD


Premenstrual syndrome and alcohol consumption: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Fernández MDM, Saulyte J, Inskip HM, Takkouche B.  BMJ Open. 2018 Apr 16;8(3):e019490. Free Article


Heavy Alcohol Consumption May Worsen PMS (Medscape – free subscription)



  1. Alice June 18, 2018 at 11:20 am

    My friend, when PMS starts, drinks a little wine and it gets easier. Of course, maybe she just convinced herself of this and there is no connection between alcohol and her state of health.

  2. MGH Center for Women's Mental Health June 25, 2018 at 9:54 am

    It’s an interesting observation. Many women with PMDD experience higher levels of anxiety, and it turns out that alcohol can interact with GABA receptors to reduce levels of anxiety.

    That said, there are also research studies which indicate that alcohol can typically make PMDD worse, especially mood changes and irritability, so we typically recommend cutting back on alcohol consumption.

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