We often focus on how what we eat can impact PCOS but something that shouldn’t be overlooked is the impact of what we drink. In this blog, we are going to answer some of the top questions asked about PCOS and alcohol.
Does drinking alcohol make PCOS symptoms worse?
There is a wealth of evidence to show that lifestyle choices can have an impact on PCOS symptoms and although PCOS is an incurable condition, making positive lifestyle changes has been shown in many cases to have an impact on alleviating symptoms and improving day to day life with PCOS. As well as diet and exercise, reducing alcohol consumption is one of the lifestyle factors to consider.
Some key elements to consider when thinking about PCOS and alcohol:
Data has shown that 38%-88% of women with PCOS are either overweight or obese. Studies have shown that losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help regulate your menstrual cycle and improve PCOS symptoms. But for PCOS sufferers, even small amounts of weight loss can be a challenge. Reducing your alcohol intake could help shed some of those crucial pounds, as alcohol is high in calories and a correlates with weight gain.
Alcohol also interferes with blood sugar levels. 60-80% of PCOS women suffer with insulin resistance. When someone is resistant to the effects of insulin, the blood sugar lowering action does not work properly and the body produces extra insulin. This increase in insulin levels causes an increase in androgen production, which will only exacerbate your PCOS symptoms. Again, this can lead to a downward spiral that might, in turn, affect cravings, healthy food choices and your desire to keep physically active, all contributing to excess weight gain.
Women with PCOS have increased levels of depression, anxiety and perceived stress. Regular, heavy drinking can also contribute to this, as alcohol can cause an imbalance in the chemicals in the brain that aid good mental health, which can result in low moods and anxious thoughts, especially when hungover.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
Women with PCOS have an increased prevalence of NAFLD. This condition is not caused by alcohol, rather it is linked to obesity, insulin resistance, high blood sugar levels and high levels of fats in the blood. However, heavy alcohol consumption can exacerbate this condition and cause further liver damage. Doctors recommend that people with NAFLD do not drink alcohol at all.
Research has shown an association between PCOS and sleep disturbances. Drinking alcohol is also linked to poor sleep quality and duration as it impacts the deep sleep state you are able to achieve, thus excessive drinking can further exacerbate PCOS patients’ sleep troubles.
Does alcohol affect insulin levels?
Blood sugar and insulin levels are another consideration when thinking about PCOS and alcohol. Insulin is a hormone that helps to manage blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance is seen in over 50% of women with PCOS. In people with insulin resistance, the body does not respond to insulin as efficiently as it should and so they need to produce more insulin than normal in order to process sugar, this can lead to high insulin levels in the blood.
Alcohol can further perpetuate this as moderate amounts of alcohol can cause blood sugar to rise, yet excess alcohol can decrease blood sugar levels. This can then have a knock-on effect on other hormones in the body and in turn, can trigger and worsen PCOS symptoms as well as further contribute to menstrual cycle irregularity.
Does alcohol affect hormone levels?
Alcohol can impact hormone levels, especially oestrogen and progesterone – numerous studies have shown that alcohol consumption increases oestrogen levels and decreases progesterone levels. PCOS is already known to cause an imbalance in these hormones and so heavy drinking can further aggravate this imbalance and as a result, your PCOS symptoms may get worse.
Can you drink alcohol while taking Inofolic Alpha?
There is no specific reason why you cannot drink alcohol whilst taking Inofolic Alpha. You may just wish to reduce your alcohol intake, especially if you are trying to conceive or manage your PCOS symptoms. It is just worth considering the health implications of drinking alcohol when you have PCOS as mentioned in this blog post.
Does alcohol affect fertility for those with PCOS?
Alcohol can affect the fertility of anyone trying for a baby including those with PCOS. If you’re trying to conceive, frequent alcohol use can affect fertility and make it harder to get pregnant. One study showed that women who drank more than 14 servings of alcohol a week had an 18% decreased chance of conceiving.
If you are trying to conceive with PCOS fertility can be affected by drinking in the following ways. Drinking can:
- Change your levels of oestrogen and progesterone
- Reduce your ovarian reserve (the number of eggs you have)
- Change your menstrual cycle and ovulation thus making it harder to get pregnant
Should you stop drinking alcohol if you have PCOS?
It is totally your decision if you stop drinking alcohol or not because of your PCOS, but as discussed in this blog post excessive alcohol consumption can worsen your PCOS symptoms and can also impact fertility. Another consideration is if you have been prescribed any medications by the doctor (e.g. Metformin) then mixing these medications with alcohol is not recommended. Always speak to your doctor before drinking whilst on medication.
When thinking about managing your PCOS symptoms or trying for a baby, we think that it is best to think about your lifestyle as a whole rather than just looking at alcohol consumption in isolation, for example, try and think about your diet and exercise regime too. If you really enjoy a glass of wine do not deprive yourself completely, after all, life is for living, we just believe that moderation is key. If you are drinking alcohol then make sure you stay well hydrated and try to keep your healthy diet on track. Always speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.
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