Interactive effects of ovarian steroid hormones on alcohol use and binge drinking across the menstrual cycle

Michelle M. Martel, Tory Eisenlohr-Moul, Bethan Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Patterns and features of substance use and abuse vary across the menstrual cycle in humans. Yet, little work has systematically examined the within-person relationships between ovarian hormone changes and alcohol use across the menstrual cycle. Our study was the first to examine the roles of within-person levels of estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4) in relation to daily alcohol use and binge drinking in young women. Participants were 22 naturally cycling women, ages 18-22, recruited through a university subject pool who reported any alcohol use and who completed a screening visit assessing study eligibility, followed by 35 subsequent days of data collection. E2 and P4 were obtained via enzyme immunoassay of saliva samples collected by participants each morning, 30 min after waking. Presence and degree of daily substance use were obtained using an adaptation of the Timeline FollowBack Interview completed daily. Results indicated that elevated E2 in the context of decreased P4 levels were associated with higher risk of drinking and binge drinking. These effects were present only on weekend days. Results are suggestive of a dual risk model in which both ovulatory E2 increases and perimenstrual P4 decreases increase risk for drinking. Differential associations of steroids with drinking across the menstrual cycle may suggest the need for clinical assessment of substance use to take into account hormone dynamics and menstrual cycle phase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1104-1113
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Psychological Association.


  • Alcohol use
  • Binge drinking
  • Estradiol
  • Ovarian steroid hormones
  • Progesterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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