It doesn’t take much alcohol to seriously affect your hormonal levels, and the older you are, the greater the impact may be.
Recently, the medical journal Alcohol and Alcoholism published a review of several clinical studies, concluding that among premenopausal women, alcohol consumption may cause estrogen levels to spike and progesterone levels to decrease.
The complications of elevated estrogen levels include:
- Irregular menstruation
- Mood swings
- Excessive bloating
- Swollen, tender breasts
- Lower sex drive
- Severe headaches
- Greater risk of breast cancer
Likewise, low progesterone levels can result in:
- Abnormal bleeding of the uterus
- Hot flashes
- Decreased sex drive
Here’s the thing – these hormonal imbalances can result from “moderate” drinking – just one drink per day. The risk increases with heavy drinking.
Male Drinkers Are Also Affected
According to the Testosterone Centers of Texas, “Alcohol is the enemy of testosterone.”
Excessive estrogen levels naturally lead to a decrease in testosterone levels. Excessive drinking can lead to an increase in estrogen, for several reasons:
- Beers made with barley or hops contain prolactin and phytoestrogen, two chemicals that promote estrogen production. Wine and some liquors also contain phytoestrogen.
- Heavy alcohol consumption is associated with weight gain, and stored fat also leads to higher estrogen levels.
- In large doses, the ethanol found in alcohol can damage the male testes, resulting in impaired:
- Testosterone function
- Sperm count
Other complications of low testosterone include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Decreased muscle mass
- Lowered motivation
Oddly enough, among women, excessive drinking INCREASES their levels of testosterone, increasing the risk of losing secondary female sex characteristics.
What Does All of This Mean?
This information may should lead to a reevaluation of what “safe” drinking really is. What might barely affect a person in their 20s or 30s could profoundly impact someone in their 40s or 50s.
And, if you already have a problematic relationship with alcohol, this is just another of the many health-related reasons to get help.
If you are worried about how your drinking habits may be affecting your current and future health, Lasting Recovery outpatient alcohol rehab in San Diego can help.
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