Short-term effects of alcohol consumption on the hormonal milieu and mood states in nulliparous women

Julie A. Mennella, M. Yanina Pepino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study was designed to determine the short-term effects of alcohol consumption on hormonal responses and mood states in nulliparous women who have regular menstrual cycles. To this aim, we conducted a within-subjects design study in which eight women consumed a 0.4-g/kg dose of alcohol in orange juice during one test session (alcohol condition) and an equal volume of orange juice (control condition) during the other. Changes in plasma prolactin, oxytocin and cortisol levels, blood alcohol concentrations (BACs), and mood states were compared. BAC peaked at approximately 36.7 + 5.4 min after the consumption of the alcoholic beverage and decreased thereafter. Alcohol consumption significantly increased the area under the concentration-time curve (AUC) of prolactin (P < .01) and decreased the oxytocin AUC (P = .04) when compared to the control condition. Cortisol AUCs were not different across the two experimental conditions. Similar to that previously observed in lactating women, changes in prolactin and oxytocin paralleled changes in feelings of drunkenness. The magnitude and persistence of the alcohol-induced hormonal changes in nulliparous women were significantly less pronounced than those observed in lactating women, further highlighting the dynamics of the system under study during lactation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-36
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol
  • Cortisol
  • Mood
  • Oxytocin
  • Prolactin
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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