Feb 10, 2015

Why Alcohol Affects Women Differently to Men

When it comes to drinking alcohol, it is said that men are more ‘resistant’ to it; that is – women drinking the same amount of alcohol as men will become easily intoxicated. Even though some women may develop resistance to alcohol and there are always exceptions which confirm the rule, in general, this inequality should be understood seriously and women should pay more attention to it. There are a few reasons why alcohol affects women more which you will read in the following lines.

Blood isn’t water
The source of life – water – is said to be one of the reasons for this. Alcohol is such a substance which mixes with water. Human bodies consist of roughly 57 per cent of water, and when alcohol enters the body, it goes straight to our blood.

Another factor that plays a significant role here is the body – even though some women may not like this, male and female bodies are different and males tend to be bigger than women, which also influences the volume of blood that runs through their veins. Simple calculations will show that when a man, who has approximately 5-6 litres of blood, and a woman, who has approximately 5 (or less) litres of blood in her body, drinking the same amount of alcohol will show different reactions to it. Namely, the given amount of alcohol will be more concentrated in a female body rather than in male, it will not be processed as efficiently, leaving the woman suffers from the consequences of alcohol heavily when compared to the man. The brain and other organs become exposed to more alcohol which shortens the period of alcohol processing and will tend to break the body down faster in order to eliminate the alcohol.

Additionally, women on average tend to have a higher proportion of body fat than men. Since fat does not absorb alcohol, it then becomes highly concentrated in the body. However, before alcohol enters the bloodstream the body will want to break down the alcohol, however, female body – which has less of dehydrogenase (gastric, or stomach enzyme) that metabolises the alcohol – will absorb up to nearly 30 per cent of alcohol, affecting the behaviour much faster.

Another difference may be the concentration of hormones and the change of hormone levels in different phases of the menstrual cycle, impacting the female body more easily than male. And finally, the consequences of chronic alcohol drinking will leave heavier physical consequences on women than on men, such as liver or brain damage, which tend to progress faster in women.

Even though a woman will look ‘more drunk’ than a man who drank the same number of beer or other spirits, the breathalyser will show the same percentage on both of them. Having in mind the bad sides, there are ways in which women can take care of themselves:

- never drink on empty stomach – this will enable the alcohol to enter your bloodstream more easily, thus affecting your physical condition in a negative manner; instead, have a heavy meal prior to drinking, or eat snacks while drinking;

- know when to stop – you have to find out what your limit is, experiment at home with a friend or spouse, starting with smaller amounts;

- small amounts – never participate in a drinking contest; rather, sip your drink and enjoy the flavour and aroma of the drink;

- mix – but not in the sense of mixing two drinks, no! – mix one alcohol beverage with a non-alcohol beverage, or drink them alternately, having finished a beer, drink a juice or a glass of water;

- never drink with medicines – some pharmaceuticals can cause more problems when combined with alcohol, than the alcohol itself;

- stay active – it is best to help alcohol leave your organism by being active instead of sitting and drinking because you will notice how the alcohol has affected you; rather, dance or walk around to work it off.

The bottom line is that there even though some of us would like for gender inequality to be non-existent, but sometimes facts are just facts, meaning that 2 glasses of semillon sauvignon blanc will leave the same consequences on a woman as 4 glasses a man drinks. This is why you have to think about your safety more, without putting yourself at risk.

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