Patterns and features of substance use and abuse vary across the menstrual cycle in humans. Yet, little work has systematically examined the within-person relationships between ovarian hormone changes and alcohol use across the menstrual cycle. Our study was the first to examine the roles of within-person levels of estradiol (E2) and progesterone (P4) in relation to daily alcohol use and binge drinking in young women. Participants were 22 naturally cycling women, ages 18-22, recruited through a university subject pool who reported any alcohol use and who completed a screening visit assessing study eligibility, followed by 35 subsequent days of data collection. E2 and P4 were obtained via enzyme immunoassay of saliva samples collected by participants each morning, 30 min after waking. Presence and degree of daily substance use were obtained using an adaptation of the Timeline FollowBack Interview completed daily. Results indicated that elevated E2 in the context of decreased P4 levels were associated with higher risk of drinking and binge drinking. These effects were present only on weekend days. Results are suggestive of a dual risk model in which both ovulatory E2 increases and perimenstrual P4 decreases increase risk for drinking. Differential associations of steroids with drinking across the menstrual cycle may suggest the need for clinical assessment of substance use to take into account hormone dynamics and menstrual cycle phase.

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Published in Journal of Abnormal Psychology, v. 126, no. 8, p. 1104-1113.

© 2017, American Psychological Association. This manuscript is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the final, authoritative version of the article. Please do not copy or cite without authors’ permission. The final version of record is available via its DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/abn0000304

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This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (M.M., UL1R000117), National Institute of Mental Health (T.E., T32MH093315; K99MH109667), and National Institute on Drug Abuse (M.M., DA005312; DA035150).

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Refer to Web version on PubMed Central for supplementary material.

NIHMS890588-supplement-supplement_1.pdf (112 kB)
Supplemental Schematic: Timing of Observations for Hormone-Drinking Analyses.