Moderate alcohol intake and menstrual cycle characteristics

Human Reproduction, 02/05/2014

The generalizability of the study results is restricted to women who manage to conceive and women who do not use oral contraceptives within 2 months before getting pregnant. This study suggests that the menstrual cycle is not substantially affected by higher alcohol consumption among the participating women.


  • A cross–sectional study with retrospectively collected data including 82146 pregnant Danish women in the Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC) enrolled during the years 1996–2002.
  • Information on weekly alcohol consumption and menstrual cycle characteristics before pregnancy was obtained through a computer–assisted telephone interview in pregnancy Week 12–16.
  • The associations between weekly alcohol consumption and menstrual cycle irregularity (≥7 days difference between cycles) and length (short cycle: ≤24 days, long cycle: ≥32 days) were analysed using logistic regression with weekly alcohol intake categorized into abstainers (0 drinks per week), low (0.5–2.0 drinks per week), moderate (2.5–14.0 drinks per week) and high (14.0–86.5 drinks per week).
  • Estimates are given as adjusted odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals.


  • The overall participation rate was 60% of the women invited.
  • Authors found that a high weekly alcohol consumption was not associated with menstrual cycle disturbances.
  • They observed higher odds of irregular and short cycles among abstainers when compared with women with a low weekly alcohol consumption, but found no trend of more cycle disturbances with higher alcohol consumption.
  • Possible limitations in this study include a risk of selection bias due to the moderate participation rate and the use of retrospective information on alcohol exposure and menstrual cycle characteristics before getting pregnant.
  • The higher odds of irregular and short cycles among abstainers may reflect other health problems in these women rather than an actual effect of alcohol on the menstrual cycle.

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