Alcohol and menopause

English | Cymraeg

One of the questions we often get asked is how alcohol affects the body during menopause. Here, we’ve set out some straightforward information and advice to help you manage your alcohol consumption as you navigate the menopause.


Menopause is a natural stage in most women’s lives. That doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. Fortunately, we’ve moved on from whispering mysteriously about “the change”, and several well-known women have helped make menopause a much more normal topic of conversation recently by sharing their experiences.

But there’s still a way to go. There are still plenty of myths to dispel and plenty of gaps in knowledge.

Understanding menopause

“Menopause” literally means the end of monthly periods or menstruation. It usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55. The ovaries stop producing eggs, and levels of the hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone drop. It’s this reduction in hormone levels that causes the symptoms of menopause.

The most widely talked-about symptoms of menopause are hot flushes and sweating. But menopause can also bring anxiety, low mood, disturbed sleep, vaginal dryness, irregular periods, and confusion and forgetfulness often described as “brain fog”. It can undermine your confidence at work and put a strain on your relationships.

It's also worth noting that menopause is not a single event that’s then over and done with. Menopause is often preceded by a stage known as “perimenopause”, which happens when you have menopause symptoms but your periods have not yet stopped. Perimenopause ends and menopause begins when you have not had a period for twelve months. Even after that, menopause symptoms may continue for many more years.

Drinking during menopause

Alcohol has often been described as the nation’s “favourite coping mechanism” and it’s not surprising that many women find their alcohol consumption creeping up when they’re trying to cope with menopause. On the other hand, alcohol can worsen menopause symptoms – particularly hot flushes and headaches, anxiety and depression. And our bodies generally become less able to manage alcohol as we get older. So, when it comes to alcohol and menopause, where is the line and how do you walk it?

The general advice from the UK’s Chief Medical Officers – for anyone, at any stage of life – is not to have more than 14 units of alcohol each week. That’s about a bottle and half of wine or five to six pints of standard-strength beer or cider. It’s a good idea to spread that out over the week and to take a few days off alcohol each week. That’s sometimes easier said than done, and if you struggle to do it, you’re far from alone.

Here are a few tips that many people have found useful to moderate your drinking:

  • Some people find it helps to think and drink in units, so as not to have more than 14 units in any one week. Why not download our free Try Dry® app to help you keep track? It's free and easy to use and helps you track your units, calories and money saved from not drinking, log your dry days, earn badges, set custom goals and more.
  • You could also try keeping a drinks diary – recording what you drink for a few weeks, to help you understand when (and maybe why) you tend to drink.
  • Even if you don’t want to keep a diary, it’s always worth thinking about the reasons you’re drinking. It may that you’ve got into a habit of drinking with dinner or on a particular night of the week. Once you understand your habits, you can decide if you want to change them.
  • As we’ve already said, having a few days off alcohol every week is always a good idea. It’s an effective way to drink less and to avoid drinking becoming a default option.
  • If you want a treat but are trying to have less alcohol, take a look at some of the huge range of alcohol-free and low-alcohol beers, ciders, wines, and even spirits, available now. We’ve reviewed around 450 of them on our website, and you’re fairly certain to find a worthy replacement for your favourite alcoholic drink.
  • Try to avoid using alcohol to help you sleep. Alcohol will get you off to sleep but it will keep your body from sleeping deeply and can leave you feeling unrested in the morning. If you are struggling to sleep, think about other things that may help you unwind – such as music, reading a favourite book, or relaxation or meditation exercises. It may also help to reduce the temperature a bit in your bedroom – 18°C is often recommended as a good level.

Other ways to take care of yourself during menopause

Aside from doing what you can to moderate your drinking, there a few other things you can try, to take care of yourself during menopause. Just like at any other time of life, it’s a good idea to have a regular sleep routine, eat a balanced diet, take some exercise (it doesn’t have be anything expensive or exhausting – a walk will do!), and to stay connected with people – friends, family, or whoever you like and trust.

If you feel able, it will also help if you can explain to those around to you what you’re going through with menopause – it will help them understand and offer you more relevant support.

You can find more tips on living well with menopause, and lots of other information on The Menopause Charity’s website. They also have advice on how to talk about menopause with your partner, and with your employer.

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