Ahhh wine. The sparkling wine, the cheeky mini wine, the canned wine (yes, that’s a thing now). For some it becomes quite appealing at certain times throughout the menstrual cycle - but why? We’re taking a closer look at what’s going on with our hormones that has us reaching for the rosé, and how to know if we should be embracing or avoiding the bottle when that time of the month strikes.
It’s a valid question. Why are you not craving chocolate? Or cheese? Or some obscure snack food? For those of us who crave specifically alcohol (wine or otherwise) during our cycle, it can seem like an odd thing to seek out.
Studies have discovered you may be likely to enjoy the effects of alcohol more during your premenstrual week than other weeks during your cycle, but other studies have found that alcohol cravings are highest during the follicular phase of your cycle, compared to the luteal phase, and these cravings can be even higher for those who use hormonal contraception.
But why? The answer could actually be pretty simple; we are more likely to turn to alcohol as a way of easing the low mood that comes with dropping estrogen levels. In short, we feel rubbish, so we want a glass of wine to feel better.
When the mood strikes, the question is, should we pour a glass?
It’s hard to justify any health reasons for drinking wine, as alcohol certainly has its negative side. But there have been several studies done on the benefits of red wine specifically, which used to be thought of as the reason for the “French paradox”. This is an observation that French people have lower rates of heart disease, despite consuming high saturated fat and cholesterol in their diet. The reason? Experts used to say it was all the red wine they drank, but newer studies have confirmed this is most likely a myth. Damn!
Still, according to a 2018 study, drinking red wine in moderation could have positive links with cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, neurological disorders, and metabolic syndrome, but it’s worth mentioning that there have never been any official recommendations on the benefits of drinking red wine. After all, too much of a good thing.
Looking at what red wine could do for your PMS, another 2018 study found that the polyphenols in red wine and grapes can improve the gut microbiota, and certain compounds in the drink may also act as prebiotics, which promote gut health. If you suffer from the dreaded ‘funny tummy’ during your cycle - bloating, IBS, the works - then it’s possible a little red wine could help.
It also contains a lot of antioxidants, which are important for maintaining good health and protecting cells from damage. There have been links made between antioxidant levels and certain hormone levels during the menstrual cycle, but no formal conclusions have been drawn about this. Antioxidants are good for your overall health though, so if you feel a bit under the weather at certain times during your cycle, a boost in antioxidants is never a bad thing. A little red wine could provide these, but so can other sources.
We’re all about a healthy balance of listening to your body and also enjoying food and drinks in moderation, so if you are craving some wine or another alcoholic bevvy at certain points during your cycle, don’t sweat it.
That said, moderation is key when it comes to any alcohol, and at the end of the day, if you over-do it on drinks you’re going to make yourself feel worse. It’s also important not to start associating low mood during your period with having a drink - you don’t want to become dependent on this to feel better.
If you are developing a stronger desire to drink alcohol, it’s time to take notice. According to Drinkaware, it is advised that you drink no more than 14 units a week on a regular basis, and watch out for signs of alcoholism, which include a lack of interest in previously normal activities, getting drunk more regularly, and needing to drink more to achieve the same effect. Feeling tired, unwell, irritable, anxious or depressed are also red flags.
If you experience any of the above signs, or worry that you are developing a dependency on alcohol, don’t be afraid to reach out to your GP for help and advice.
Do you ever notice a connection between your cravings for alcohol and your menstrual cycle? We’re curious to know if many people experience this. Shout out in our private Facebook group or drop us a note on Insta @itsyoppie. Don't forget that our personalised period box can get organic tampons, PMS supplements and more delivered easily and regularly through your letterbox, which frees up time more time for a cheeky tipple now and then.
This article was fact-checked by Yoppie’s nutritionist Shona Wilkinson.
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