Does Alcohol Really Affect Women More Than Men?

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Contrary to common belief that men and women of the same height and built will experience the same effects from consuming identical amounts of alcohol, women will get drunk faster than men. So the quick answer is yes, alcohol does affect women more than men.


A woman‘s body processes alcohol differentlythan a man’s. Clinical tests conclude that women are more adversely affected by alcohol and are more prone to alcohol abuse. The factors below come at play —resulting in faster intoxication in women than in men:

Difference in Body’s Fat Proportion

One factor to consider is that most women tend to have higher proportion of body fat than men. Alcohol cannot be absorbed by fat. So when a woman drinks alcoholic beverage, the alcohol will remain in her bloodstream longer because it’s not absorbed quickly by the body.

Difference in Dehydrogenase Levels in Men and Women

Dehydrogenase is a stomach or gastric enzyme that breaks down alcohol before it enters the blood stream. Men have higher dehydrogenase present in their bodies. Because of this, women will absorb approximately 30% more alcohol in their bloodstream as opposed to men of the same height and weight who consumed the same amount of alcohol.

Difference in Height in Men and in Women

Most women are shorter and slimmer in built than men. Because of this, one drink consumed by a woman will have the same effect as two drinks consumed by an average man. Simply put, short women are most likely to end up having a higher concentration of alcohol in their bloodstream.

Difference in Body’s Ability to Dilute Alcohol

Another factor that affects how a woman’s body processes alcohol is a woman’s ability to dilute alcohol in her body. Water concentration in an average man is around 61% while an average woman has only 57%. This means the body of an average man is naturally able to dilute alcohol more efficiently than a woman’s body – and this is regardless of weight.

Hormonal Changes in Women

The effects of alcohol in women increase due to hormonal changes too. A woman’s hormonal levels change all the time. And this can cause a woman to become intoxicated faster, especially if she drinks a few days before she gets her period. Women who also take birth control pills will experience longer effects of intoxication because estrogen-based medications slow down the body from processing and eliminating alcohol in the bloodstream.

Because alcohol affects women more than men, the health dangers of heavy alcohol consumption in women is doubled too.

Research conducted by health experts from the National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse concludes that women have a higher risk of developing serious health problems from alcohol abuse than men. In fact, more women that are alcoholic die of liver cirrhosis each year than alcoholic men. Alcoholic women will also experience muscle breakdown of the heart and nerve damage faster than alcoholic men will.

Finally, another alarming difference between alcoholic men and women is that the latter have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure.Women are also prone to developing damage to the pancreas and brain faster than men. The bottom line is, if a woman is trying to out-drink a man, she’s literally putting her health at risk.

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