Why alcohol and the menopause aren't a great mix!

alcohol and menopause hot flushes menopause symptoms night sweats Dec 13, 2022

The Menopause and Alcohol Connection


Menopause and Alcohol: How They Affect Each Other

Menopause is a process women go through naturally at around the age of 51. Some women may require surgery or medical treatment which means they enter menopause at a younger age. 

I think it’s fair to say whenever you enter menopause, it is quite likely that your life is fairly busy! 

Trying to pay the bills, get your kids to the right place at the right time, look after ageing parents, turn up and perform each day at work and cope with the inevitable changes that menopause brings with it. 

A glass or two to celebrate the end of the week ( or day!) seems like the right level of ‘self care’ that you deserve doesn’t it? 

Until you wake up with a thumping head or dripping wet and steaming hot. 

Welcome to the menopause and alcohol sweats!


Firstly please know that I like a drink or two. 

My favourite drink is champagne closely followed by a Gin and Tonic but expensive red wine is wasted on me, give me a cheap and cheerful Merlot over a bottle of Chateau Palmer any day! 

But as a Menopause Coach I have a duty to arm you with the knowledge to help you make decisions about the way you eat, drink and move in order to stay as healthy as you can, through this phase of your life and beyond. 

Despite the media telling us that Red Wine is healthy, I think we all know that excessive amounts of alcohol are not great for anyone’s health but does it change specifically in peri-menopause or menopause? 

If you are reading this and just starting to notice that you have symptoms of peri-menopause then you are in the best position to make some changes NOW, before it gets really hard to break the habit. 


Why is alcohol likely to become more of an issue in peri-menopause?

The average age for menopause to occur is 51 - the 7-10 years leading up to that time are, for many women, a really busy time. 

The combination of older children who may not need quite so much of your time as a mum taxi, a busy but successful job which allows you a bit more freedom to spend money on social events, ageing parents and other commitments which add a different level of stress to your life - may mean that there are many more opportunities for you to enjoy alcohol either inside or out of the house, than you used to. 

  • Wine O’Clock has become the norm at home. 
  • Bottomless Brunch with endless prosecco is appealing. 
  • Saturday night starts at 5pm and ends when you run out of booze.

It’s easy to see how alcohol can sneak into our week more frequently than is healthy and it’s a tough habit to break.  


The 3 reasons we need to know about why alcohol affects women in peri-menopause and menopause.







Reason One -  We are literally smaller and dryer than we used to be! 

I’m sure we all know someone who seems to be able to drink twice as much as you without displaying any outward signs. The SMALLER you are the less alcohol your body can tolerate. 

But there’s more. 

You know how you notice your skin is dryer, your hair is dryer, when women go into menopause our body composition changes and we become DRYER. 

This means that a single glass of wine will have more of an effect on us that it would have when we were younger.

We also have less of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), this enzyme contributes to removing alcohol from the bloodstream - less ADH means the alcohol hangs around for longer!









Reason two - Our irritating menopause symptoms may worsen.

It sounds a bit melodramatic but alcohol is to all intents and purposes, a poison. 

Yes, a nice one in moderation but for our poor body which is already trying to get used to less Oestrogen and Progesterone than it used to have, chucking in another stress in the form of a daily dose of ‘poison’ for your poor liver to deal with and it is likely to object by increasing some specific menopause symptoms - often at night. 

  • Night time hot sweats 
  • Inadequate deep sleep 
  • Easily wake up during the night 
  • Increased night time heart rate
  • Increased chance of headaches.
  • Waking up feeling anxious, groggy, angry, sad or all of these!

Alcohol can affect our bladder leading to night time waking but for some women it is a trigger for a cystitis type of issue called Bladder Pain Syndrome.









Reason 3 -  Alcohol affects our behaviour and choices.

Are you a happy drunk or a grouchy one? 

A couple of alcoholic drinks often make us relaxed and happy - and say YES to things we ought to think about more carefully. 

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has signed up to do something during a fun evening out and lived to regret it the next morning. My first 10k race happened like that but I know others who have agreed to bungee jumps, long distance bike rides and even MARRIAGE!! Alcohol removes our inhibitions and can result in some less than healthy choices. 

  • It makes us hungry so we eat more - often we crave the high fat or high sugar foods which we normally avoid. 
  • It affects our sleep which makes us more hungry - so we eat more. 
  • The lack of sleep also affects the hormone which helps us recognise when we are full up - so we eat more.
  • It increases the likelihood of a low self esteem which means we stop prioritising our health. 


Can you still enjoy alcohol during the menopause?

Of course - if you wish to! After all this doom and gloom I’m now going to share some tips which will help you to work out what feels right for you. 

  • Keep a diary of the amount of alcohol you are drinking for a month. Note when you drink, the amount you drink and the REASON you are drinking. You might start to see a pattern emerge and be able to reduce it. 
  • Look at the size of your wine glass - some are almost half a pint, consider downsizing! 
  • For every alcoholic drink you have, double it with water, still or sparkling. This will help to offset the amount of alcohol by increasing your hydration temporarily and slowing you down. 
  • Avoid having high fat foods before or with alcohol, your liver finds it hard to process alcohol, fat and sugar at the same time. 
  • Choose protein rich foods to go with alcohol, this will help to lower the insulin spike that goes with sugary foods and alcohol. 
  • In the diary I suggested add a space to note down menopause symptoms after drinking alcohol. You may notice a difference in wine versus spirits, or organic wine over non organic. 


So in summary, menopause is a massive transition for our body, internally is is coping with the ‘stress’ of homone fluctuations and eventual decline and in order to feel as fit and happy as possible, looking after long term health must be a priority. 

HRT may be an option to reduce many menopause symptoms but it is not a sticking plaster which allows us to continue to live like we used to, taking back control of our eating, drinking, sleep and rest are all essential to go alongside other prescribed treatments. 

If you’d like my help to get you started ( or back on track) with that, book your space on my next FREE WEBINAR on 28th December.




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