Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Mark T. Fillmore


Compared with men, women are disproportionately affected by alcohol, including greater risks of behavioral impairment and relapse. One likely mechanism underlying this disparity is fluctuations of ovarian hormones, particularly estradiol (E2), across phases of the menstrual cycle. Pre-clinical and clinical studies have shown that higher E2 levels correlate with heavier patterns of alcohol consumption, suggesting E2 may modulate drinking. This relationship is thought to be mediated by the rewarding properties of alcohol. The present thesis tested the hypothesis that elevated E2 during the late follicular phase would increase the rewarding properties of alcohol. Fifty young-adult women participated in a within-subjects placebo-controlled study of the acute effect of 0.6 g/kg alcohol on the rewarding properties of alcohol, measured by attentional bias towards alcohol and subjective reports. Measures were obtained following alcohol and placebo during the early follicular phase of the cycle when E2 was low and the late follicular phase (i.e., ovulation) when E2 was elevated. Results showed that the rewarding effect of alcohol was greater during the late follicular phase. These findings highlight the rewarding properties of alcohol as a potential mechanism by which elevated E2 during the late follicular phase might exacerbate risk for excessive alcohol use among women.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism grants R01AA027990 from 2021 to present and T32 AA027488 from 2022 to present.