Kate's story: “It was giving up alcohol that managed my menopause”

Kate | May 2024 | 8 minutes

Here Kate shares her experiences of drinking alcohol in midlife and how this affected her during her menopause.

I grew up in a drinking environment. Alcohol was always a celebration, always something to numb a feeling. No one would ever call anyone out for their drinking because we were all in the same boat – all drinking the same amounts.

Things change over time. If you have kids, you might not drink when you’re pregnant. But then you have the “mummy wine” culture. It’s five o'clock and the kids are driving you bonkers, and so there’s wine to cope.

And then midlife hit me, with massive hormonal changes. At that age many of us also find ourselves caring for elderly or sick parents and dealing with teenagers’ unpredictable emotions. Plus, as I was going into menopause, we had Covid to deal with. Lots of us were suddenly homeschooling children, with all the stress that brings.

...my relationship with alcohol was certainly dysfunctional.

It was one day during lockdown that the penny dropped for me about my drinking. The lockdown regulations had been relaxed, and we had a get-together. I was the only one drinking rosé, and I remember seeing the amount of rosé I’d managed to consume that afternoon, on my own. I didn’t feel drunk, and I didn’t feel totally hungover the next day. I’d got too used to drinking alcohol.

Around that time, my dad became very ill, and that of kind tipped me over the edge. From October to December 2020, I was out of control. I’ve never used the word “alcoholic” to describe myself, but my relationship with alcohol was certainly dysfunctional.

I was sharing my story with loads of women, and I realised that lots of us where defaulting to “mummy wine” culture to cope with all the stuff we were juggling in midlife. And we’re all making it OK for each other – justifying it to each other.

I did Dry January®...and I decided to stay dry until the end of June...

I didn’t want to carry on that way. I did Dry January®, and then I had a dry February. Then we went back into lockdown, and I decided to stay dry until the end of June, when we were due to come out of lockdown again. But one thing you find if you want to stop drinking is that people can get quite uncomfortable about it. Alcohol is the only drug that you’re questioned as to why you want to stop using it.

A few people said I was boring. But I felt amazing.

A few people said I was boring. But I felt amazing. I was present for my family. I was present for my dad. My aches and pains and my hormones were managed. I was lifting weights! It was giving up alcohol that managed my menopause. That’s my narrative, and if you’re navigating this time of life, my advice would be “don’t drink”. It’s made me stronger, giving up. I can face my feelings with clarity and not blame myself. I can go out to the pub, and I’ll drive. I’ll always nominate myself to drive, and it’s so much simpler.

I know that for so many people, giving up alcohol is one of the hardest things to do. Our brain is so good at convincing us not to change our ways. What I would say is that if you are a woman who is suffering with her menopause symptoms, try not drinking, maybe for just ten days, and see the improvements in your sleep in your night, and in your mood in the morning. Allow yourself that opportunity to thrive.

Kate Rowe-How is the author of Owning Your Menopause: Fitter, Calmer, Stronger in 30 Days. You can find out more about Kate and her work on the Owning Your Menopause website.

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