Alcohol & Women
Women's bodies react to alcohol in a different way to men's. This is why the low risk daily/weekly limits are lower for women.
Women are usually smaller than men and do not have as high a proportion of water to fat. This means alcohol stays more concentrated inside a woman’s body. Women’s livers don’t neutralise alcohol as quickly as men’s and can’t remove it from the blood as quickly either. In short, the same amount of alcohol will get a woman more drunk more quickly and, if they exceed the low risk limits, may harm them more.
Other factors to consider:
There are almost 200 calories in a large glass of red wine. At 7 calories per gram, alcohol contains more calories than many foods. Sugar in drinks comes on top of that. Alcohol can stimulate the appetite too, so you’re more likely to eat more.
Alcohol lowers inhibitions and can make us more likely to get into risky situations. Being drunk makes us more vulnerable to accidents and physical and sexual assault. Keep an eye on each other when you’re out and don’t let anyone walk home alone, or with a stranger. Make sure you get home safely.
The contraceptive pill can slow the rate alcohol gets into the bloodstream so you won’t get drunk as fast. This doesn’t mean you can ignore the low risk limits. Heavy use can make the pill less effective. If in doubt, ask your doctor for details. Having sex while drunk makes us more vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
Some women find alcohol affects them more during their period. This is because the rate alcohol is dealt with by the body can slow during this time. Heavy, prolonged drinking can result in irregular periods or stop them altogether (though you can still get pregnant).
Alcohol lowers sperm count in men and fertility in women. If you’re trying for a baby, consider cutting down or cutting it out altogether.
Even small amounts of alcohol can harm the unborn child. Avoid alcohol if pregnant or trying to conceive.
When breastfeeding, your baby consumes most of what you eat and drink - including alcohol. If you choose to drink at all, keep to minimal amounts.
In 1991, 37% of the 245 alcohol-related deaths among women in Scotland had alcoholic liver disease as their cause. In 2005, 492 women in Scotland died because of alcohol. 338 of them (69%) were caused by alcoholic liver disease.
In Scotland, 500 new cases of breast cancer each year could be linked to alcohol consumption. The world’s largest study of women’s drinking behaviour showed the risk of breast cancer increases by 10% for every extra alcoholic drink you drink every day over the low risk limit.
Alcohol can make feelings of anxiety and depression worse and contribute to stress. Better ways to cope with life's challenges include learning problem solving and relaxation techniques, taking regular exercise and sharing worries with someone you trust.