The Effects of Alcohol on Men vs. Women

drinking.bmpYou are at happy hour with your girlfriends and guy friends having a few drinks. Or perhaps you are at a business dinner with several male clients. After two drinks you are feeling quite tipsy, while the guys have more than a “few drinks” and do not even seem affected by it. Have you ever wondered why you feel the effects of alcohol much more quickly than your guy friends? Or perhaps why the day after effects of alcohol  – aka hangovers  (more info on hangovers will come at a later post!)  are worse than what guys experience?

 There are several reasons as to why alcohol affects men and women differently, including:

  • The first  reason is obvious – body size. Men usually weigh more than women. We know that the more you weigh, supposedly the more alcohol your body can handle.
  • Body Composition. The average female carries more body fat than the average male, and body fat contains little water. Consequently, most women have less body water to dilute the alcohol, leaving a higher concentration of alcohol in women’s bodies.
  • Here is one reason I did not know – women have less of an enzyme that helps to metabolizie alcohol. This enzyme is called alcohol dehydrogenase and helps the body get alcohol out of its system. Women have less of this enzyme than men, so more of what women drink enters the bloodstream as pure alcohol. In other words, women can expect substantially more alcohol-caused impairment than men at equivalent doses. 

Here are some other facts on alcohol and women –  In general, women are more sensitive to alcohol, may become addicted sooner, may develop alcohol-related problems more quickly, and many die younger than men with similar drinking problems.

So the next time you are out with your boyfriend/husband/date/clients and he offers you another glass of wine, keep these differences in mind. You should not be matching him drink for drink!


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