MyMT™ Blog

Brittle Bones: Why are you drinking alcohol when you are on menopause-HRT?

The irony wasn’t lost on me.

Here she was at a Christmas social event I was attending during the week – and on her third glass of wine. No, I wasn’t counting. She told me, when she offered to pour me a glass. I turned her down politely.

It was then that we struck up a conversation. I only knew her vaguely and the inevitable question about what I did arrived. So, I told her about My Menopause Transformation and how I’ve used my physiology and women’s health and ageing knowledge to position this stage of life in lifestyle science.

Oh, I’m already on HRT” she said, waving her wine glass at me. “I was told that every woman needs it for her bones.”

My smile belied my real thoughts. My mind was saying ‘well, why are you drinking alcohol then? Bone mineral density is known to be reduced with alcohol consumption – surely your Doctor would have told you to stop drinking when you went on menopause HRT?’ It would seem not, as she filled her glass again from the now nearly empty bottle.

It reminded me of my time at the Women’s Health conference in America recently – the double-standards of the Pharmaceutical company promoting their latest and greatest menopause medications and menopause HRT – yes, as global production of menopause HRT can’t keep up, especially for the HRT-patch which is currently experiencing a world-wide shortage, the pharmaceutical companies are doing their best to come up with new menopause medications.  

While the wine was free-flowing to those attending (mainly Physicians), I noted from the brochure information that the combination of this particular HRT and alcohol, increases hot flashes/ flushes and reduces bone mineral density … two of the very things that the HRT is supposed to reverse.

‘Alcohol’s Harmful Effects on Bone’ was the title of one of the very first papers written by scientist, Dr Wayne Sampson (PhD) nearly 30 yrs ago. His work is now backed up by more recent research on the effects that alcohol consumption has (especially alcohol consumption over a longer period of time), on bone mineral density. (Godos et al, 2022).

Bone is a major storage site for calcium and other important minerals. Alcohol disrupts this storage process in a number of ways:

  1. Alcohol affects the hormones that regulate and influence calcium metabolism – this includes kidney hormones and growth hormone.
  2. Alcohol disrupts calcium absorption from the small intestine.
  3. Alcohol disrupts ‘activated’ Vitamin D (after it has undergone modification in the liver and kidneys), which in turn means that calcium absorption may be reduced in the small intestine. Vitamin D levels are especially low in the presence of alcoholic liver disease too.

Protecting our bone health as we age, is one of the most important factors to focus on as we age. There is so much emphasis on heavy resistance-training and menopause HRT (hormone replacement therapy) to mitigate bone-health, and yes, based on current medical recommendations, these strategies have evidence behind them.

However, what also has evidence behind it, is the fact that if you are drinking more than one glass of alcohol in one sitting and you’ve been drinking for years, then your bone mineral density is reduced considerably. As reported in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (Godos et al, 2022),

There is consistent evidence that increased alcohol consumption (more than 1 glass daily) is associated with higher risk of osteoporotic hip fracture.’

We all know that drinking culture is big business in many parts of the world. I’m reminded of this every time I come through the duty-free section of the airports and people flock to buy their booze.

There’s nothing wrong with having some alcohol of course, but with encouragement from others and because we often feel exhausted, for many women not coping with their menopause symptoms, it becomes their ‘pick-me-up’ at the end of the day. Their personal ‘reward’ for their busy, stressful lives.

I know myself that it’s also challenging when we are distracted with hot flushes when we drink … especially as we reach our post-menopause years – this designates when you haven’t had your period for a year or more.

When it comes to alcohol and our symptoms, I’m not surprised that numerous women on the MyMT™ programmes mention similar experiences. 

For women in post-menopause, they are further into their ageing. As such, structural changes occur to the gut, liver and thyroid, which further interferes with alcohol metabolism and removal of toxins.

Most of that alcohol you are drinking, doesn’t leave the body for 72 hours and alcohol also esterifies (changes) into oestradiol, a form of oestrogen.

So, if you are finding that you feel hotter and you are putting on weight, then don’t forget that this excess oestradiol gets stored in fat cells and of course, this includes breast tissue storage, where you have numerous oestrogen receptors that are looking for this oestradiol. It’s no surprise that alcohol consumption is a major risk for breast cancer.

Over the past year, I’ve had the privilege of educating Sarah Rusbatch from Australia, on my Menopause Practitioner Course. Sarah’s own story and journey has led her to where she is today – helping women to ditch the booze. They possibly don’t know how important this is, not only to their mental health and menopause symptoms, but also to their bone health.

If you feel that you need help and support with alcohol reduction, then please explore Sarah’s great work at Grey Area Drinking. She has also just released a book on this very topic called ‘Beyond Booze’

If you need support with menopause weight loss and symptom management, then yes, come on board with me. My ‘New Year, Healthier You, Transform Me menopause weight loss sale starts on Boxing Day and this is my best-ever sale. I hope you can join me.

Dr Wendy Sweet (PhD), MyMT™ Founder & Member: Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine


Godos J, Giampieri F, Chisari E, Micek A, Paladino N, Forbes-Hernández TY, Quiles JL, Battino M, La Vignera S, Musumeci G, Grosso G. Alcohol Consumption, Bone Mineral Density, and Risk of Osteoporotic Fractures: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Jan 28;19(3):1515. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19031515. PMID: 35162537

Pohl K, Moodley P, Dhanda AD. Alcohol’s Impact on the Gut and Liver. Nutrients. 2021 Sep 11;13(9):3170. doi: 10.3390/nu13093170. 

Sampson HW. Alcohol’s harmful effects on bone. Alcohol Health Res World. 1998;22(3):190-4. PMID: 15706795 

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