What Is the Relationship Between Alcohol and Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is commonly associated with symptoms such as increased menstrual pain, painful intercourse, abnormal vaginal bleeding, intestinal distress, infertility, and chronic pain in the lower back and pelvis.1

For women with endometriosis, many doctors recommend a balanced, healthy diet that is free from added hormones, soy, and inflammatory fats. To help manage painful symptoms associated with the disease, some doctors will even suggest an elimination diet that is free from dairy, gluten, and added sugars.2

But what about alcohol consumption? Can women with endometriosis safely consume alcohol?

Alcohol and endometriosis risk

There is no identified cause of endometriosis.2 Still, some studies have shown a correlation between alcohol consumption and the risk of developing endometriosis.3,4 Compared with women who do not have endometriosis, as well as with women with other gynecological problems, women who consume alcohol may have a greater incidence of endometriosis.4 However, it has not been confirmed or refuted whether increased alcohol consumption could be a direct cause of the disease, or whether the increased consumption exacerbates the existing condition.3,4

Alcohol and endometriosis symptoms

It is generally recommended to limit alcohol consumption if you have endometriosis.2 Alcohol increases estrogen levels.5 In addition, consuming excess amounts of alcohol forces your liver to work harder. Since estrogen is metabolized and broken down by the liver, impaired liver function can prevent estrogen from metabolizing properly. For patients with endometriosis, this buildup of estrogen in the body can inflame the uterine tissue and lead to increased symptoms.6

Alcohol, endometriosis, and infertility

Women with endometriosis can have a harder time conceiving than women who do not have endo.1 In fact, 50% of women with with infertility are diagnosed with endometriosis.7 While the cause of infertility in women with endometriosis is not known, it is understood that patches of endometriosis can block off or disrupt the reproductive organs, and the uterine layer where implantation occurs may not develop as it should to support pregnancy when endometriosis is present. Similarly, alcohol consumption has been linked to infertility in clinical trials. For women with endometriosis who consume excess amounts of alcohol, the risk of infertility is even greater.8

Can I still have an occasional cocktail?

Moderate alcohol consumption may be safe for patients with endometriosis. Still, there is no consensus on what amount is considered safe. Some experts recommend no more than one drink per day, while others are more conservative, recommending no more than one to two servings per week.2,9Talk to your doctor about what would be best for you.

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