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Addiction. 1995 Jan;90(1):23-30.

Do alcohol pharmacokinetics in women vary due to the menstrual cycle?

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  • 1UNRAB (Research Group on Addictive Behaviors), University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Many authors in the alcohol field believe that the physiological responsiveness of women to alcohol varies during the menstrual cycle, due to changes in levels of sex steroid hormones. Statements about this issue are very contradictory, however. The aim of this review was to decide what valid evidence was available on this issue. Three criteria were set to assess the validity of the reviewed studies: (1) was a within-subjects design used with normally cycling subjects, (2) were the time points selected for testing characterized by significant variations in sex steroid activity, and (3) was it verified whether ovulation occurred in the subjects by measuring levels of sex steroids? Two of the 11 studies we examined met these criteria. These studies, emanating from the same laboratory, found that alcohol elimination increased, by about 14%, during the luteal phase compared to other phases of the cycle. The results were discussed in relation to other research regarding effects of sex steroids on alcohol metabolism. It is concluded that there is no evidence that menstrual cycle causes significant instability in alcohol pharmacokinetics in women.

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