If a woman has an active professional and social life, alcohol seems to almost be an integral part of everyday life. It’s consumed when meeting friends after work, going to parties on weekends, having a drink on a date. However, even in small quantities, alcohol affects women differently than men. If drinking becomes excessive, female health issues will be much greater than those of a man, even if the amount of alcohol consumed is the same.

Where’s the problem?

Most women are smaller in size, and therefore their body metabolizes (processes) alcohol differently. The female body has a higher proportion of fat, while males have higher levels of water. As a result, after drinking the same amount of alcohol, women will always have higher alcohol concentrations in their blood. Also, the female liver produces less alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes which facilitate the process of alcohol conversion. It is precisely for this reason that women get intoxicated more quickly than men and that being under the influence of alcohol remains for a longer period of time. Therefore, the permissible alcohol dose for women is almost half that of men. Accordingly, it is much easier for women to exceed their limit causing alcohol to become harmful.
So, if you drink a glass of wine every day after work, and drink more with your friends at the weekends, it’s time to change your drinking habits.

Risks

  • The Liver
    Females are more likely to develop liver cirrhosis after a shorter period of drinking than males.
  • Depression and Feeling Down
    The most common reason why women start to drink is stress at work or dissatisfaction in their family life (small child, exhaustion, loneliness). It’s like a vicious cycle – feeling down initiates a wish to drink, leading to a hangover, which causes you to feel down. And it starts all over. Therefore, if you wake up hungover every day, the best thing you can do is to stick to a healthy lifestyle and do sports.
  • Sleep Disorder
    On the one hand, alcohol seems to accelerate falling asleep. However, even in small doses, it interferes with the final stage of the sleep cycle. Therefore, after having woken up after drinking alcohol, you will feel tired and down more often than well rested.
  • Infertility
    Drinking alcohol increases the risk of infertility. This applies not only to females who consume large quantities of alcohol, but also to those who use it moderately. Drinking alcohol can interfere with the ovulation cycle, increase the risk of a miscarriage, and cause early menopause. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy endangers the fetus’s health. For more details see the section for female pregnancy.
  • Heart and Blood Circulation
    After drinking alcohol, small blood vessels (capillaries) expand, increasing the probability of having a red face. When consuming alcohol regularly, the expansion of the skin’s small blood vessels remains permanently and can become visible on the skin. Under the influence of alcohol, the heart rate and oxygen consumption in the heart muscle increase and chronic metabolic disorders in the heart muscle cells may occur. After a prolonged use of alcohol, due to irreversible changes in the heart muscle, heart pain, shortness of breath while working, rapid heartbeat, and heart rhythm disturbances occur. Alcohol consumption increases blood pressure, which further harms the heart.
  • Respiratory Organs
    Drinking alcohol causes changes in the throat, trachea, bronchi, and lungs. There is an increased risk of developing tuberculosis. After drinking alcohol, hoarseness and coughing may develop, as well as bronchitis, or even pneumonia. This may also be accompanied by dyspnoea, which will be particularly detrimental during exercise.
  • Gastrointestinal Tract
    Alcohol toxicity has the fastest effect on the gastrointestinal mucosa, it can cause inflammation of the oral cavity, throat and oesophagus mucosa. Alcohol consumption is a contributing factor to gastritis, small intestine inflammation, or cancer.
  • Cancer
    Drinking more than two or three drinks per day increases the risk of oesophageal, throat, laryngeal, and colorectal cancer.
  • Aging
    As the result of alcohol consumption, the skin may lose flexibility, resulting in wrinkles and the skin appears grey.
  • Personal Security
    Latvia does not centralize statistics on violence against women. But global practice has shown that being under the influence of alcohol increases the risk of becoming a victim of crime. For example, a UK government study found that 81% of women who suffered from sexual abuse were under the influence of alcohol.

What to Do?

  • Feeling tense? Forget about that glass of wine, instead, choose a physical activity – walking, jogging, cycling. Alcohol blocks the formation of endorphins or happiness hormones in the body, while doing sports, on the contrary, helps the body to produce them.
  • If you go somewhere to drink, eat first. If you know that there won’t be any food where you are going, be sure to pack a snack in advance.
  • When having lunch in a restaurant, do not allow the waiter or a lunch companion to constantly top off your glass. Both in the restaurant and at house parties, before topping off the glass, empty it completely. In this way, you will be sure to know how much you have drunk.
  • Alternate your drinks between alcoholic and non-alcoholic. This will make it easier to get alcohol out of your system by reducing its blood concentration and prevent the body from losing water too quickly.
  • Schedule sports activities over the weekend or before work. If you agree on a yoga class at nine in the morning with a girlfriend, you will hardly be in for a wild party the previous evening.
  • Always know how to get home from a party. If using public transport, check the schedule. If you are planning to go by taxi, keep a list of safe taxi numbers in your phone.