Globally, alcohol consumption causes 2.8 million premature deaths. While men traditionally have accounted for a large percentage of alcohol-related deaths and addiction, more women struggle with their drinking and search for an alcoholism cure. More businesses are also advertising alcohol for women, which can increase the risk of addiction.
Alcohol affects women differently. Women have different body structures and chemistry, which causes them to absorb more alcohol. It also takes women longer to metabolize alcohol, so the effects last longer and can be more intense.
Because alcohol affects women differently, they face unique dangers regarding alcoholism. These dangers include:
Hormonal system failure
Drinking alcohol can disrupt a woman’s menstrual cycle, affecting her fertility and making it more difficult to conceive.
Alcohol can create hormonal fluctuations that can make ovulation and menstruation irregular. Over time, chronic alcohol use can cause women to stop having their periods.
The link between alcohol use and fertility is still not well understood, but excessive drinking has been shown to have a negative effect on the hormonal system. Research has found that heavy drinking can lead to excess estrogen production, but it can also temporarily increase testosterone levels.
Doctors often recommend that women stop drinking if they want to get pregnant to ensure that their hormones are balanced and that the body is ready for pregnancy.
Reproductive hormones are just one piece of the puzzle here. Alcohol consumption can also disrupt the hormones that regulate glucose. It can:
- Inhibit the production of glucose.
- Affect insulin secretion and can cause hypoglycemia.
- Affect the body’s hormonal response to hypoglycemia.
The hormonal system also helps maintain appropriate calcium levels, which is necessary for strong bones and teeth as well as cell communication.
Alcohol consumption can interfere with:
- Hormones derived from vitamin D
- Parathyroid hormone, leading to deficiencies and increased calcium excretion
Ultimately, the disruption of these hormones can lead to a calcium deficiency, which increases the risk of osteoporosis and other bone diseases.
The good news is that research has shown that alcohol’s effects on bones are partly reversible if you stop drinking.
In addition to the hormonal system, there are other alcohol health risks for women, such as:
- Liver cirrhosis and other liver diseases
- Heart damage
- Cognitive decline
- Liver, throat, mouth, colon and esophagus cancer
Heavy alcohol intake for women can cause health problems and even lead to severe disease.
Loss of attractiveness
Alcohol use can lead to premature aging and unattractive behaviors for both women and men.
Having an occasional drink with friends won’t necessarily harm you, but regular and heavy drinking has been linked to:
- Dry, red and irritated skin
- Hair loss
Excessive alcohol consumption has also been linked to weight gain and poor sleep. Sleep deprivation can make you look tired and older.
In addition to affecting your appearance, alcohol can lead to unattractive behavior in women. Alcohol affects the central nervous system, and it can cause slurred speech, poor coordination, poor impulse control or even temporary paralysis.
Problems with pregnancy
No amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy. When pregnant women drink, the alcohol passes through the blood and to the placenta, where it affects the baby.
Babies simply cannot process alcohol the same way adults process it. The liver is one of the last organs to develop, and it won’t be fully developed until the end of the pregnancy. Too much exposure to alcohol can seriously impact the baby’s development.
Heavy drinking in the first trimester of pregnancy can greatly increase the risk of:
- Low birth weight
- Premature birth
Drinking in the second and third trimesters can have long-term effects on your baby after birth, such as:
- Learning difficulties
- Behavioral issues
Women are also at great risk of developing fetal alcohol syndrome, or FAS, if they drink regularly throughout the pregnancy. In addition to behavioral issues, FAS can also include poor growth and distinct facial features.
Alcoholism affects people across the globe, including women. However, women face some unique dangers or risks because they absorb alcohol differently than men.
Women who are struggling with alcoholism should seek help to overcome their addiction and live a life free of the dangers of heavy drinking.