Depression and anxiety 2017 12 15() doi 10.1002/da.22699
Alcohol use has been reported to fluctuate over women’s menstrual cycles (MCs), with increased intake occurring premenstrually/menstrually (phases characterized by heightened negative affect) and during the ovulatory phase (a phase characterized by positive affect). This suggests women may drink for particular emotion-focused reasons at specific points in their cycles. However, no research had yet examined MC variability in drinking motives, or links between cycle-related changes in drinking motives and alcohol consumption.
Ninety-four normally cycling women (Mage = 22.9 years old, SDage = 4.7) completed daily diary measures (via Smartphone surveys), with questions pertaining to state drinking motives and quantity of alcohol consumed for the course of a full MC.
Drinking motives differed by cycle phase. Women reported a slight increase in drinking to self-medicate for negative affect premenstrually, with drinking to cope peaking in the menstrual phase and declining mid-cycle. Women reported a slight increasing trend across the cycle in social motives for drinking, while enhancement motives remained relatively stable across the cycle. Cycle-related changes in drinking motives predicted increases in the quantity of alcohol consumed. Drinking to cope with negative affect predicted a greater number of drinks menstrually (days 1-5). While social motives predicted a greater number of drinks during the follicular and ovulatory phases (days 5-16), enhancement motives were unrelated to drinking quantity across cycle phase.
Clinicians should be attentive to cycle phase when treating reproductive-aged women with alcohol disorders (e.g., encouraging the use of healthier means of coping with negative affect during menses).