Here’s a question for you – can drinking alcohol cause hot flushes? It’s become blatantly apparent to me that drinking alcohol has a significant impact on the number of hot flushes I have. Which got me wondering whether there is a link between alcohol and hot flushes/the menopause and generally how alcohol can effect you as you get older.
I do love a glass or two of Prosecco, wine or rum and coke and, like many, I find nothing more relaxing at the end of a stressful day than to pop a cork, pour a glass and sit down and and let the stresses of the day ebb away. That said, the older I am getting my body is finding it harder and harder to cope with alcohol and for some reason especially white wine? It also seems to be the quantity which has the biggest impact on the flushes, if I only have a couple there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference, anymore than 4 and I can almost guarantee at least double the usual amount of flushes.
Over the last 5 weeks myself and Mr Perfect have been abstaining (most of the time) from alcohol and no surprises the flushes have been very few and far between. Then this weekend we were away on Mr P’s work conference, which consists of lots of chatting and drinking during the afternoons and evenings. We were both really good on the Friday evening, only 3 or 4 glasses and lots of water for me and NO flushes or night sweats. Unfortunately I wasn’t quite so good on Saturday!!
We were with a group of Northern Irish and Welsh people and they were playing each other in the Euro’s, so we made a bit of an event of it, which meant the drinks were flowing! Then it was a VERY quick change into evening attire for the nights entertainment, including wine on the tables and a bar just to the right of our table (far too easy access!!).
Here I am with Mr Perfect after our very quick change. Let’s just say I ended up having more than just 3 or 4 and didn’t look like this by the end of the night! I did also drink about 3 pints of water, thank the lord or I would have felt shocking the next day.
Needless to say I had a couple of flushes during the night and then about 5 the next day, not to mention feeling shattered all day. There really didn’t appear to be any other explanation for them other than the alcohol. Which got me wondering what the experts have to say on the subject…
Alcohol & Menopause Symptoms
Why Does Alcohol Trigger Hot Flushes?
Alcohol warms the body and causes the face to flush – I’m pretty sure many of you have experienced this during a night of drinking. For women who are already predisposed to hot flushes during menopause, alcohol may set off an episode. When alcohol starts to warm the body up, other parts of the body start working to cool the system down, resulting in the typical symptoms of a hot flush.
Not being an expert myself I have taken the following information from Healthline.com
A number of habits can affect the frequency and severity of menopause symptoms. Alcohol appears to be one of them. As women (and men) age, they become more sensitive to the effects of alcohol on the body. This is because your cartilage and tendons lose water as you age, which causes your body to hold less water. The more water in your body, the better your body can dilute alcohol.
The effects of alcohol affect women more than men because they are usually smaller than men. This means they absorb alcohol more quickly. Women also have less of a certain enzyme in their stomach than men. As a result, their bodies cannot handle alcohol as well.
Alcohol can affect the body in different ways. Some women find they are happier, while others feel more depressed. Certain women say that their hot flashes, night sweats, and insomnia become worse. Health experts say that heavy drinking during menopause can increase a woman’s risks of:
- heart problems
- liver disease
What do studies say about drinking during menopause?
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 one drink per day. Research suggests that this type of consumption may decrease a woman’s risks of heart disease and may actually slightly boost bone density. Moderate drinking is also associated with a lower risk of:
- type 2 diabetes
Risks of excess alcohol consumption
A fine line separates a “moderate” amount of alcohol from too much. Consuming two to five drinks a day during menopause is considered excessive and may harm a woman’s health. Excess alcohol consumption during menopause is associated with:
Increased cancer risk
Drinking any amount of alcohol is linked to an increased risk of breast and other cancers. This risk exists even for women who drink just one serving of alcohol per day. The risk of breast cancer is 1.5 times greater for women who drink two to five drinks per day.
Increased risk of heart disease, obesity, and organ damage
Excess drinking increases a woman’s risk of heart disease. It also increases a woman’s risk of “central” obesity, or the accumulation of weight mostly around the midsection. This kind of obesity is a big risk for developing heart disease. Heavy drinking increases a woman’s risks of organ system problems, including damage to the:
Increased risk of osteoporosis and broken bones
Not only does heavy drinking increase the risk for osteoporosis, but it can also increase a woman’s risks of falling and fractures. This bone loss cannot be reversed, and severe fractures may require surgery.
Increased risk of depression and alcoholism
The risk of depression tends to increase in menopausal women. Heavy drinking can make depression worse. Even in women without depression, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to depression and alcoholism.
Worsened menopause symptoms
Researchers have also linked drinking to an increase in hot flashes and night sweats in some women. However, other women report these menopause symptoms are not triggered or worsened by alcohol.
How much can you drink during menopause?
When it comes to drinking during menopause, the amount matters. How much depends on your personal health, drinking history, and 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. One drink is defined as one of the following:
- 5 fluid ounces (a glass) of wine at an alcohol content of 12 percent
- 12 fluid ounces (a standard bottle or can) of regular beer at an alcohol content of about 5 percent
- 1.5 fluid ounces (a shot glass) of 80-proof distilled alcohol
This is how the NIAA defines different levels of drinking for women:
- Moderate (low risk): no more than seven drinks per week and no more than three drinks on any single day
- Heavy (at-risk): consuming more than the moderate daily or weekly amounts
- Binge drinking: drinking so much within about two hours that your blood alcohol level reaches 0.08 g/dL (about four drinks)
Remember, every woman is different. Moderate drinking, or one drink per day, during menopause can boost the health of some women during menopause. But 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.
Not The Best News If You Like A Drink?
I know this probably isn’t the best news if you like a drink, but I’ve read a number of different articles on how alcohol effects women and the simple truth is the older we get the less tolerant we become. Not only that, it can also act as a trigger for flushes and night sweats, aren’t we a lucky lot!
Alcohol is not a trigger for everyone but you will soon realise, like me, if it is for you. Next time you have a couple of drinks or more, take more notice of your flushes and see whether they increase the next day, if they do the likelihood is you have an intolerance.
Based on the information from Health Line it’s worth reviewing your alcohol intake for your health and wellbeing and if it’s causing you to have more hot flushes and night sweats it’s definitely worth limiting your consumption as it will help you get better sleep, which in turn makes you more focused and less irritable the next day.
That’s not to say you can’t celebrate in style once in a while. After all, it’s hard to be an angel all the time!!
Love Diane xx