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Last updated November 22, 2017, originally published
October 20, 2015
By L. Carr, Contributing Columnist

Think that a few drinks every day is simply making you more
relaxed, sociable, and fun to be around? Whether you drink
socially or you have a serious drinking problem, the bad news
is alcohol significantly affects your testosterone levels. Enjoy
one too many beers on a regular basis and you could end up
with more than a hangover. You could end up with low T.

That's right, alcohol use is associated with low testosterone
and altered levels of additional reproductive hormones,
according to Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine,in
Maywood, Illinois.

Chronic alcohol abuse also “produces sexual dysfunction and
impairs sperm production in both humans and animals (Yen
and Jaffe 1991)” Did you realize the quite how much damage
alcohol does to your testosterone levels? But how does
alcohol affect you reproductive system? And how much
alcohol is too much when it comes to healthy testosterone

Alcohol and the Male Reproductive System

Alcohol is toxic. And your reproductive system is not immune
to its effects. Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in
Illinois reports that alcohol affects “all three parts of the
hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, a system of
endocrine glands and hormones involved in male

There are several possible mechanisms for alcohol’s effect on
reproductive hormones, including testosterone, for example
alcohol metabolism, cell damage caused by alcohol, and other
hormonal reactions.

Scientists say that alcohol lowers the amount of coenzyme
NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) inside your liver
and also inside your testes.

Why is that important?  It's important because NAD+ is
essential for the effective production of testosterone and
other reproductive hormones.

Alcohol also stimulates the release of beta-opioid endorphins,
which make you feel relaxed but have a negative effect on
testosterone production.

Alcohol actually causes damage to the tissues in the cells of
the testes and can damage testosterone molecules already
circulating in your body.

Lots of alcohol can raise estrogen levels, which in turn lowers
testosterone. Plus, alcohol acts to raise homocysteine levels,
which have been directly linked to increased risk for
cardiovascular disease.

Animal Evidence for the Destruction of Testosterone by

The research into the damage caused by alcohol on the male
reproductive system goes back to 1974, with a report from
The Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology,
Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

Scientists discovered that the amount of testosterone in mice
treated with alcohol was significantly reduced, and that the
more alcohol the mice were given, the lower the levels of

Later in the seventies, a 1979 study by J Ellingboe and CC
Varanelli showed that  alcohol suppresses testosterone
synthesis in male rats.

Does alcohol actually shrink your balls? It may. A 1979 study
from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
demonstrated that feeding alcohol to male rats resulted in
their testicles weighing 50 percent less than rats in the
control group.

Research in 1990 from the University of Turku, Finland
reveals that a 6 percent alcohol diet given to rats for five
weeks significantly reduces serum and testicular testosterone

And in 1999, scientists from the Clayton Foundation
Laboratories for Peptide Biology, The Salk Institute in La
Jolla, California showed that “alcohol induces a rapid and
profound decrease in plasma T levels.”

Low Levels of Alcohol Actually Increase Testosterone…

You may have heard, however, that low amounts of alcohol
actually can
increase testosterone. You probably feel a lot
more potent after a shot of whisky.

It’s true – a 2003 study from the National Public Health
Institute, Helsinki, Finland shows that testosterone rises after
intake of a very small amount of alcohol.

But Even Moderate Alcohol Consumption Results in
Testosterone Dip

But drink more than half a shot of vodka and the problems
begin. According to a 2004 study from TNO Nutrition and
Food Research, Zeist in The Netherlands, 40g of alcohol for
men and 30g for women per day decreased plasma
testosterone levels in men (but not in women) – the amount
of alcohol in around three cans of beer.

And High Levels are Dangerous for Testosterone and

Chronic alcohol abuse has many negative health effects. Low
testosterone levels is one such problem. In a 2002 study
from the University of Granada in Spain blood samples were
taken from individuals arriving at an emergency department

Acute alcohol intoxication resulted in a dramatic decrease in
testosterone levels in men. A 1997 study by researchers at
Hospital Clinic, Barcelona, Spain demonstrated that 39.4% of
alcoholics had significantly reduced their sperm count, and
that alcoholics frequently develop primary hypogonadism
related to a lifetime of heavy drinking.

It Seems Alcohol Affects Male Reproduction Even Before You
are Born

And don’t think you will automatically have high fertility
because you are a teetotaler. A 2010 study from Aarhus
University Hospital (Denmark) shows that if a pregnant
woman drinks alcohol she may damage the future fertility of
the son she is carrying.

the type of meat your mother ate while pregnant
eats and the amount she ate, affects your sperm count

When pregnant mothers drink 4.5 drinks or more a week, the
sperm concentration of their offspring is around 32 percent
lower 20 years later than sons of mothers who did not drink
while pregnant. However, the study did not find any link
between mothers’ drinking and testosterone levels.

The findings all point to the risk of drinking alcohol if you
want to preserve high testosterone levels.

One or two drinks will probably be fine, but if you are
regularly drinking more than the recommended amount your
testosterone levels are almost certain to take a dive.


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Eating Soy Reduces Sperm Count
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Good old brewskis -- good for your spirits, bad for
your T?
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