Does alcohol affect women differently?

Women Affected More Strongly by Alcohol Than Men

"The removal of alcohol from the bloodstream by the liver seems to be more efficient in women."In general, women are affected more strongly by alcohol than men. When a man and woman drink the same amount of alcohol, the woman typically becomes impaired more rapidly and her blood alcohol levels rise faster than the man's blood level. This is because a woman's body tends to have less water than a man's body, even when they are the same weight. Water in the body helps dilute the effects of alcohol. The removal of alcohol from the bloodstream by the liver seems to be more efficient in women.

Organ Damage More Severe in Women Than Men

Organ damage caused by alcohol may also be a bigger problem for women than for men. Liver diseases, such as cirrhosis, develop more rapidly and are more deadly in women. Women may also be more likely to experience brain damage from drinking. Drinking also takes a stronger toll on a woman's heart. It could also contribute to the development of certain forms of cancer.

Women Consume Lesser Alcohol Than Men

Because of the stronger effects that alcohol has on women when compared to the effects on men, women cannot safely consume as much alcohol as men. Moderate drinking is defined differently for men and women because of this. Instead of two drinks per day, women should limit themselves to no more than one drink per day.

Alcohol Problem in Women

Women who drink are less likely to become alcohol dependent. However, the risk factors for developing an alcohol problem have some differences when it comes to men and women. Because more women are former victims of sexual abuse than men, this risk factor is a more common source of alcoholism in women. Childhood neglect, heredity, and the age when she first started drinking can all affect a woman's risk of developing an addiction to alcohol. A woman who drinks over four glasses in one sitting or one who drinks more than seven servings in a week has a higher risk of developing alcohol problems. A woman's alcohol tolerance may also develop differently than a man's tolerance.

Alcohol Abstinence for Pregnant Women

Drinking during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, birth defects, mental and behavioral disorders, and learning problems.

Regarding alcohol use, one special consideration for women is pregnancy. Women who are pregnant should not drink at all. All alcohol a pregnant woman drinks passes through her unborn baby because the fetal and maternal blood supplies are interlinked during pregnancy. Drinking during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, birth defects, mental and behavioral disorders, and learning problems. The most serious problems often occur in the early weeks of pregnancy when the fetal organs are forming, but alcohol use at any time during pregnancy can affect the baby negatively. Alcohol use may also impact fertility, so women who are trying to get pregnant should also avoid alcohol.

Higher Death Rates for Women Alcoholics Than Men

Another problem women face regarding alcohol use is that they are more likely to become victims of domestic violence or alcohol-related accidents when drinking than men are. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, female alcoholics have a much higher death rate than male alcoholics.

Higher Risk for Developing Addiction Than Men

In addition to the differences between men and women who drink, men and women also have different drinking patterns. Fewer women than men drink alcohol overall, and women who drink typically drink less than their male counterparts. Women who have a high tolerance for liquor are at a higher risk for developing an addiction.

Mixed Use of Alcohol and Other Drugs in Women

"A woman’s body may also react more strongly to the combination of alcohol and other drugs..."A woman's body may also react more strongly to the combination of alcohol and other drugs, whether those drugs are prescription, over-the-counter, or illicit. This can mean an increase in side effects or a stronger effect of the combined medicines.

Because heavy drinking takes a toll on a woman's body, it can lead to malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies. Women who drink too much at any age may be setting themselves up for health problems later in life. For example, alcohol use leaches calcium from the bones, setting the woman up for possible osteoporosis later in life.

In addition to all of the differences between men and woman with regard to drinking, the woman's own body makes a difference, too. The specific effects that alcohol has on a given woman depend highly on her individual physiology.

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