If you’re lucky enough to not spend 3-5 days a month in your finest bathleisure, riding out your mood swings and bloating on the couch with JVN and friends—well, I want your life. But even if your period is light on symptoms and your social life remains business as usual, you may have noticed one curious side effect of menstrual-phase mingling: getting sloshed after way fewer cocktails than usual.
After several members of team Well+Good casually mentioned that they feel like this happens to them, I reached out to “Period Girl” Nicole Jardim to find out if it’s a common thing. While it hasn’t been rigorously researched, the holistic health coach says that several of her clients have, in fact, noticed that their alcohol tolerance shifts along with their hormones. “I’ve heard from a number of women that they get drunker in the late luteal phase and on their periods than at other times of the month when consuming the same amount of alcohol,” she tells me. “On the flip side, I also have heard from women—less of them, however—that they handle alcohol better around period time. So it’s conflicting, but I’d say more women are affected adversely by alcohol during their periods.”
“In the second half of our cycle, we may feel drunker faster because our blood sugar is more unstable,” —Nicole Jardim, The Period Girl
So why do so many of us become cheaper dates during that time of the month? Jardim’s quick to point out that there isn’t much scientific data around the phenomenon, and the studies that have been done are inconclusive or poorly designed. Yet she does have a theory of her own. “Evidence suggests that insulin sensitivity decreases in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle,” she says. “This means that our bodies are more prone to blood sugar and insulin imbalances in the second half of our cycle, and the symptoms that accompany those issues. These include PMS cravings, mood swings, brain fog, and bouts of fatigue.”
Obviously, most women can identify with at least one of these premenstrual buzzkills—and alcohol intolerance may be wrapped up in the same not-so-welcome package. “In the second half of our cycle, we may feel drunker faster because our blood sugar is more unstable,” Jardim explains. “Alcohol consumption raises our blood sugar faster, and we may have that lightheaded, drunk, sugar-high feeling quicker than we would in the follicular phase.”
Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill to boost your endurance at the bar. So if you find yourself getting uncomfortably tipsy after a few sips of turmeric-pineapple mezcal, Jardim says there’s really only one thing to do. “I’d strongly suggest not drinking during this time of your cycle. Ultimately, you’re going to exacerbate blood sugar imbalances that will then further disrupt hormones,” she says. “However, if you do drink, stay away from fruity cocktails that are going to spike your blood sugar more than, say, a tequila on the rocks or a glass of organic red wine. Consider kombucha or go non-alcoholic with a Spindrift or La Croix.” Just think of it this way—your period-related headaches will be less of a drag if booze isn’t involved, right?
Yes, you can say “no way” to rosé and still be social—here’s how one Well+Good writer navigates the sober life (and has a blast while doing it). Your flirting game doesn’t have to suffer, either.
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