Article at a Glance:
Important facts to remember about alcohol and testosterone include:
- Testosterone is a primary sex hormone in men
- Some responsibility of testosterone include sex drive, bone and muscle mass, and hair growth
- Low levels of testosterone may influence depression, decreased bone and muscle mass, and low sex drive
- Chronic and excessive alcohol use lowers testosterone levels
- Moderate alcohol intake likely does not have the same effects on testosterone as heavy drinking does
Table of Contents
Does Alcohol Lower Testosterone?
Some specific ways that alcohol affects testosterone levels include:
- Alcohol damages Leydig cells in the testes which produce and secrete testosterone.
- A coenzyme, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), is used for both alcohol metabolism and testosterone synthesis. When alcohol is consumed, NAD+ must help in metabolizing alcohol rather than synthesizing testosterone.
- Drinking alcohol results in the release of certain endorphins. While these endorphins produce pleasant and relaxing feelings, they can also interfere with testosterone synthesis.
- Alcohol can increase a stress hormone, called cortisol, which is known to decrease testosterone synthesis.
- Alcohol may increase the conversion of testosterone to estrogen in the body.
Excessive drinking can interfere with testosterone production, but does moderate alcohol consumption have the same effects? In general, drinking one to two drinks occasionally should not have a major impact on testosterone levels. Moderate levels of alcohol consumption may have positive health benefits. However, drinking more will likely result in adverse effects including lower testosterone levels.
What is Testosterone & How It Affects Your Health
Maintaining appropriate testosterone levels throughout life is essential for physical, mental and sexual health. However, various lifestyle choices, including alcohol abuse, can affect the male reproductive system and testosterone levels.
In general, excessive alcohol consumption decreases testosterone.
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men. It is responsible for functions like sex drive, hair growth, and bone and muscle development. Testosterone levels vary throughout life. While testosterone levels are highest during puberty and early adulthood, the levels begin to decline around age 30 naturally. Low testosterone levels have been associated with depression, decreased bone and muscle mass, and low sex drive.
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Cleveland Clinic. “Low testosterone (male hypogonadism).” Published on April 10, 2018. Accessed March 30, 2019.
Emanuele, Mary; Emanuele, Nicholas. “Alcohol and the Male Reproductive System.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, (n.d.). Accessed March 30, 2019.
Emanuele, Mary; Emanuele, Nicholas. “Alcohol’s Effects on Male Reproduction.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, published 1998. Accessed March 30, 2019.
Sierksma, A, et al. “Effect of Moderate Alcohol Consumption on Plasma Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate, Testosterone, and Estradiol Levels in Middle‐Aged Men and Postmenopausal Women: A Diet‐Controlled Intervention Study.” The U.S. National Library of Medicine, published in May 2004. Accessed March 30, 2019.
The Mayo Clinic. “Alcohol: Weighing risks and potential benefits.” Published on November 6, 2018. Accessed March 30, 2019.
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