Alcohol: WOMEN VS. MEN
How often women tend to drink and what happens to their bodies when they do is
different when compared to men.

  • Self-report surveys of men and women in the United States show that alcohol
    use is more prevalent among men than women.
  • Men are more likely than women to become alcohol dependent.
  • Binge drinking (i.e., consumption of five or more drinks per occasion on 5 or
    more days in the past month) is most common among women ages 18 to 25.
  • Among racial groups, women’s drinking is more prevalent among whites,
    although black women are more likely to drink heavily.
  • Women absorb and metabolize alcohol differently than men.
  • Women generally have less body water than men of similar body weight, so that
    women achieve higher concentrations of alcohol in the blood after drinking equivalent amounts of alcohol.
  • Women DO appear to eliminate alcohol from the blood faster than men.
  • This finding may be explained by women’s higher liver volume per unit lean
    body mass, because alcohol is metabolized almost entirely in the liver.
  • Ability to Dilute Alcohol

  • WOMEN: Average Total Body Water: 52%
    MEN: Average Total Body Water: 61%
  • Ability to Metabolize Alcohol

  • WOMEN: Have a smaller quantity of dehydrogenase, an enzyme that breaks down
    MEN: Have a larger quantity of dehydrogenase, which allows them to break down
    the alcohol they take in more quickly.
  • Hormonal Factors, Part 1

  • WOMEN: Premenstrual hormonal changes cause intoxication to set in faster during
    the days right before a woman gets her period.
    MEN: Their susceptibility to getting drunk does not fluctuate dramatically at certain
    times of the month.
  • Hormonal Factors, Part 2

  • WOMEN: Alcohol increases estrogen levels. Birth control pills or other medicine with estrogen increase intoxication.
    MEN: Alcohol also increases estrogen levels in men. Chronic alcoholism has been
    associated with loss of body hair and muscle mass, development of swollen breasts
    and shrunken testicles, and impotence.
    Source: NIAAA