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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2009 Dec;18(12):1945-53. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2009.1468.

Timing of alcohol use and the incidence of premenstrual syndrome and probable premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

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  • 1Department of Public Health, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003-9304, USA.



Relatively little is known about factors that influence the initial development of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), although these conditions are common in reproductive age women and are associated with substantial impairment. Previous studies have observed higher alcohol use in prevalent PMS/PMDD patients compared with controls, but it is unknown if drinking predisposes women to developing these disorders or is instead influenced by symptom experience.


To address this, we conducted a case-control study nested within the prospective Nurses' Health Study II (NHS2). Participants were a subset of women aged 27-44 and free from PMS at baseline (1991), including 1057 women who developed PMS over 10 years of follow-up, 762 of whom also met criteria consistent with PMDD, and 1968 control women. Alcohol use at various time periods, before and after onset of menstrual symptoms, was assessed by questionnaire.


Overall, alcohol use was not strongly associated with the incidence of PMS and probable PMDD. Relative risks (RR) for women with the highest cumulative alcohol use vs. never drinkers were 1.19 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.84-1.67) for PMS and 1.28 (95% CI 0.86-1.91) for PMDD, although results did suggest a positive relationship in leaner women (p trend=0.002). Women who first used alcohol before age 18 had an RR of PMS of 1.26 (95% CI 0.91-1.75) compared with never drinkers; the comparable RR for PMDD was 1.35 (95% CI 0.93-1.98).


These findings suggest alcohol use is not strongly associated with the development of PMS and PMDD, although early age at first use and long-term use may minimally increase risk.

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