Alcohol facts: men vs women

Alcohol facts: men vs women

Alcohol affects women more quickly than men


The sexes experience different physiological effects from alcohol. Women become intoxicated after drinking smaller quantities of alcohol than are needed to produce intoxication in men. Women have lower total body water content than men of comparable size, with a couple of possible reasons. After alcohol is consumed, it diffuses uniformly into all body water, both inside and outside cells. Because of their smaller quantity of body water, women achieve higher concentrations of alcohol in their blood than men after drinking equivalent amounts of alcohol. Plus fluctuations in gonadal hormone levels during the menstrual cycle may affect the rate of alcohol metabolism, making a woman more susceptible to elevated blood-alcohol concentrations at different points in the cycle.



More men than women drink

Studies show that roughly half as many women as men drink. On the whole, women who drink consume less alcohol and have fewer alcohol-related problems and dependence symptoms than men, yet among the heaviest drinkers, women equal or surpass men in the number of problems that result from their drinking.



Women seek treatment for alcoholism sooner

The interval between the onset of drinking-related problems and entry into treatment appears to be shorter for women than for men. Studies of women alcoholics in treatment suggest that they often experience greater physiological impairment earlier in their drinking careers, despite having consumed less alcohol than men. These findings suggest that the development of consequences associated with heavy drinking may be accelerated in women.