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Depress Anxiety. 2018 Apr;35(4):313-320. doi: 10.1002/da.22699. Epub 2017 Dec 15.

Changes in coping and social motives for drinking and alcohol consumption across the menstrual cycle.

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Department of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Department of Psychology, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Department of Psychology, Concordia University, Montréal, Québec, Canada.
Department of Psychology, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada.
School of Occupational Therapy, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.



Alcohol use has been reported to fluctuate over women's menstrual cycles (MCs), with increased intake occurring premenstrually/menstrually (phases characterized by heightened negative affect) and during the ovulatory phase (a phase characterized by positive affect). This suggests women may drink for particular emotion-focused reasons at specific points in their cycles. However, no research had yet examined MC variability in drinking motives, or links between cycle-related changes in drinking motives and alcohol consumption.


Ninety-four normally cycling women (Mage  = 22.9 years old, SDage  = 4.7) completed daily diary measures (via Smartphone surveys), with questions pertaining to state drinking motives and quantity of alcohol consumed for the course of a full MC.


Drinking motives differed by cycle phase. Women reported a slight increase in drinking to self-medicate for negative affect premenstrually, with drinking to cope peaking in the menstrual phase and declining mid-cycle. Women reported a slight increasing trend across the cycle in social motives for drinking, while enhancement motives remained relatively stable across the cycle. Cycle-related changes in drinking motives predicted increases in the quantity of alcohol consumed. Drinking to cope with negative affect predicted a greater number of drinks menstrually (days 1-5). While social motives predicted a greater number of drinks during the follicular and ovulatory phases (days 5-16), enhancement motives were unrelated to drinking quantity across cycle phase.


Clinicians should be attentive to cycle phase when treating reproductive-aged women with alcohol disorders (e.g., encouraging the use of healthier means of coping with negative affect during menses).


alcoholism/alcohol use disorders; anxiety; coping; depression; gender; mood disorders

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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