Alcohol And Testosterone
Ethanol is a highly toxic substance that is usually consumed in the form of alcohol! Once consumed in a certain dose, it acts as a central nervous system depressant and can have deleterious effects on the body. It is noteworthy that alcohol is one of the most abused substance that is consumed habitually or in situations of depression or anxiety. Needless to say, that excessive or chronic consumption can lead to negative changes in your endocrine system.
As A Depressant
Being a depressant, alcohol slows down our bodily system thus, giving feeling of intoxication. Alcoholism drops the level of testosterone “the male sex hormone” due to which a person cannot perform sex after having too much alcohol. However, having it in moderation won’t do any harm which means that effect of alcoholism on testosterone is mainly dose dependent.
Alcohol And Testosterone
There are several research studies on humans as well as animal subjects (especially rodents) that supports the destructive relationship between alcoholism and testosterone levels.
Many research studies indicate that men who consume chronic amounts of these kind of beverage have elevated levels of estrogen and critically low testosterone levels as compared to those who avoid alcohol. The hazardous effects of alcohol are independent of liver functions. On the other hand, a study conducted on rats fed with ethanol-based diet showed distressing results! There was 50% shrinkage observed in testicular size upon chronic alcohol consumption.
Following are the mechanisms through which alcohol lowers T levels:
- it causes stimulation of brain to release beta opioid endorphins due to which a person feels calm after gulping few glasses of beer. However, these endorphins also have a negative influence on testosterone secretion directly.
- Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a coenzyme required in production of androgens including testosterone. This coenzyme gets depleted (or used up) during the metabolism of ethanol. Thus, the production of testosterone also suffers a huge dip.
- Consuming too much alcohol causes oxidative destruction in leydig testicular cells and other tissues. Thus, it reduces the testosterone production inside the testicles. On the other hand, the increased levels of stress hormone “cortisol” destroys the circulating molecules of testosterone.
- Chronic consumption of it enhances activity of an enzyme called aromatase which is responsible for converting testosterone into estrogen, a female sex hormone.
Like said earlier, having it in moderation won’t do any harm. In fact, one to five glasses of wine can lower testosterone levels by 7%. Surprisingly, 0.5g/kg alcohol has found to increase testosterone levels by up to some extent and 1g/kg alcohol i.e. around half glass vodka can elevate testosterone by up to 100% if taken after work out! However, effects of doing workout while drunk are contradictory as there are some studies that suggests if a person workout while he is drunk or is in hangover, the negative impact of it on testosterone will amplify. Also operating heavy machinery or instruments when you are intoxicated can prove harmful for your safety.
Among various alcoholic beverages, beer is the worst one for testosterone! Beer is mostly made up of hops that contain 8-Prenylnaringenin, a powerful phytoestrogen which can also disturb the menstrual cycle in women. Besides, 8- prenylnaringenin, xanthohumol is another harmful substance that damages the hormone signaling.
Though, alcohol and testosterone don’t go well together but as long as things are kept in moderation, there is nothing to be worried about.
- Etelälahti, T. J., & Eriksson, C. J. P. (2013). On the association between nandrolone-mediated testosterone reduction during alcohol intoxication and attenuated voluntary intake in rats. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 112, 15-21.
- Peters, S., Jolles, D. J., Van Duijvenvoorde, A. C., Crone, E. A., & Peper, J. S. (2015). The link between testosterone and amygdala–orbitofrontal cortex connectivity in adolescent alcohol use. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 53, 117-126.
- Jensen, T. K., Gottschau, M., Madsen, J. O. B., Andersson, A. M., Lassen, T. H., Skakkebæk, N. E., … & Jørgensen, N. (2014). Habitual alcohol consumption associated with reduced semen quality and changes in reproductive hormones; a cross-sectional study among 1221 young Danish men. BMJ open, 4(9), e005462.