Does Alcohol Lower Testosterone?
When you drink alcohol, it can impact your body, your health and your well-being in so many ways beyond what’s initially obvious. There are the short-term and more apparent ways alcohol can affect your health, such as causing you to be intoxicated or hungover as the effects of the alcohol wear off, but what happens under the surface? How does alcohol affect you in a less obvious but perhaps even more detrimental way?
This is something people often wonder about, and one of the specific questions they have is “does alcohol lower testosterone? Is there a relationship between alcohol and testosterone, and if so, what is it? The following explores general information about testosterone and also looks at links between alcohol and testosterone to be aware of.
In men, the testicles are primarily responsible for making testosterone, and in women, it’s the ovaries, although it’s a much smaller amount. In most people testosterone production peaks at puberty, and then starts to decline around age 30.
When men have testosterone levels that are lower than average, it can lead to many symptoms including decreased sex drive, low energy, weight gain, and depression. It can also create moodiness, low self-esteem, reduced body hair and thinner bones. While for most men testosterone production does go down with age, other things can cause it to decline as well including chemotherapy or radiation and chronic diseases.
Some of the chronic diseases that may cause a decline in testosterone production include kidney disease, AIDS, and cirrhosis of the liver.
On the other hand, for people who have elevated testosterone there may be symptoms such as adrenal gland disorder, and in women, the development of masculine features.
Along with sex drive and mental health, testosterone is also associated with bone and muscle mass, and the storage and fat and the production of red blood cells.
For men with low testosterone levels, therapy options are available.
So, what about alcohol and testosterone? Does alcohol lower testosterone?
In fact, alcoholism is a chronic condition that is linked with low testosterone levels in men.
So why does alcohol lower testosterone?
Over the long-term and with chronic, excessive alcohol use, the body starts to have problems producing testosterone because alcohol impacts the endocrine system.
The following are some specific ways alcohol and testosterone can be related to one another:
- When your body is metabolizing the ethanol in alcohol, it lowers the amount of a certain coenzyme which is present in the liver and testes. This coenzyme is NAD+, and it’s essential for the production of testosterone.
- When you drink your body also releases certain endorphins, which is why drinking can feel pleasant and relaxing. However, those endorphins can also cause problems in testosterone synthesis.
- When you’re a long-term drinker, it causes damage to certain tissues in your body, which can reduce the amount of testosterone fall in the testes and it can also destroy testosterone that already exists because of alcohol’s relationship to cortisol which is a stress hormone.
- Long-term, chronic consumption of alcohol can also increase estrogen, which is a female sex hormone. The testosterone in heavy, chronic drinkers may be converted into estrogen.
- Excessive drinking can interfere with your body’s ability to get quality sleep, and that can also cause problems with the production and levels of testosterone in your body.
While there are definitive links between alcohol and testosterone, light or moderate drinking isn’t likely to cause your testosterone levels to plunge. Enjoying a small amount of alcohol has actually been shown to increase testosterone a bit, and moderate drinking only slightly reduces testosterone.
For men, drinking one to two drinks a day isn’t likely to wreak havoc on your testosterone levels, but more than that and you could start to experience problems.
The short answer with alcohol and testosterone is that yes, drinking can lower T-levels, but this typically only true in heavy or long-term drinkers. Alcoholism is a chronic condition associated with low testosterone levels.
However, if you’re a light or moderate drinking alcohol may not cause a decline in testosterone levels.
What’s important when looking at alcohol and testosterone is to understand what is meant by moderate drinking, and if you have concerns about your consumption of alcohol, you should speak with your doctor.
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