Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Recent studies suggest that the course of acute alcohol intoxication fluctuates as a function of the menstrual cycle. Attenuated behavioral effects of alcohol at descending, as opposed to corresponding ascending, phases of elimination and absorption further suggest that acute alcohol tolerance develops over the course of intoxication. The present study was designed to examine the course of acute alcohol intoxication at different points within the menstrual cycle and to analyze relationships among sex hormone levels and blood alcohol dependent measures. Acute alcohol absorption and elimination was investigated in 12 adult, normally cycling women administered a moderate dose (0.66 ml/kg) of 95% alcohol ingested over a 15 minute period. Women were tested in a repeated measures design on Days 2, 14 and 22 of their menstrual cycles. Plasma levels of estradiol and progesterone were collected prior to each session to measure changes in sex hormone levels associated with the menstrual cycle. Breath analyses of alcohol content were conducted at five minute intervals throughout the course of absorption and elimination. Measures of eye-hand coordination and standing steadiness were administered at baseline, at peak blood alcohol concentration, and at predetermined times on the absorption and elimination limbs of the acute alcohol intoxication curve. Self-ratings of intoxication levels were requested every 20 minutes until ratings of "completely sober" were achieved. Women did not differ significantly in peak blood alcohol concentrations or in absorption times across phases of the cycle. Women eliminated alcohol more quickly on Day 22 of their cycles (p < .05), although differences occurred only at low blood alcohol concentrations. Correlations between sex hormone levels and elimination times were inadequate to account for the findings. Likewise, body water percentage changes across the menstrual cycle were unrelated to differences in elimination times. It was suggested that the alcohol dose administered was too low to allow an adequate test of acute tolerance effects on the behavioral measure of hand-eye coordination. The standing steadiness measure proved unreliable, and the self-ratings indicated that subjects reported feeling "totally sober" when blood alcohol concentrations averaged about 30 mg%. Suggestions for future research are offered.