Alcohol and the menstrual cycle
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This study explored possible antecedents in moderate women drinkers who have one or more premenstrual symptoms but are menstrating normally. The supposition that women drink more alcohol during premenstruation in order to self medicate premenstrual distress was investigated. A single subject longitudinal design was employed. Eight moderately drinking women who reported to have premenstrual syndrome were followed, daily over two menstrual cycles. Subjects provided daily self reports of alcohol consumption, mood states and physical symptoms. Following post-experimental interviews, two additional questionnaires were administered, relating to the subjects retrospective distress across the cycle and negative attitudes toward the menstrual cycle. Bivariate time series analysis was used to seek frequency coherence between the variables alcohol intake and menstrual cycle phase, alcohol intake and symptoms, alcohol intake and mood and finally alcohol intake and stress. Personality type was investigated using the EPI to explore for specific characteristics of this sub group. Results indicate that moderate drinkers did not consume more alcohol during any phase of the cycle and that alcohol intake was not significantly associated with menstrual or premenstrual distress. Alcohol intake did peak at 7-12 day cycles suggesting a weekly perhaps weekend pattern of drinking. Risk factors or antecedents that may predispose women with premenstrual syndrome to alcohol dependency are the women's age, personality and severity of PMS symptoms. Social and cognitive variables also play a role in a woman's alcohol consumption. Findings also substantiated the existence of premenstrual syndrome in these normally cycling women. However these women tended to experience a significant increase in physical symptoms but not in emotional stress. Some findings of previous research are supported. The effectiveness of the measures and the designs are discussed.