I wrote this article for a great American site, https://www.livewelltesting.com. There will be more posts from The Sanctuary published here over the next few weeks.
We all love to unwind at the end of the day. Sometimes that’s a great bout of yoga or high-intensity training, and sometimes it’s a glass of wine or a favourite cocktail. Everything in moderation, right?
Or not. Have you ever wondered what impact (if any) alcohol has on your hormones? And just how much is too much? Is any amount “safe”? What is alcohol doing inside our bodies? And what does moderate consumption even mean?
To answer those questions, let’s take it one step at a time.
Estrogen and Alcohol
Alcohol consumption can increase oestrogen—but it’s not the same for everyone.
According to clinical studies, moderate alcohol consumption can vary with life stages. What you consume at age 20 may not be the same as what you consume at age 40—and what you drink will affect your hormones really differently as well. As a woman ages, her hormones fluctuate; therefore, less alcohol is needed to have larger hormonal effects over time. For a woman in her 40s or 50s, even “moderate” amounts of alcohol can affect the hormonal system.
Drinking alcohol can cause a rise in oestrogen and a decrease in progesterone in premenopausal women. Some studies even suggest that menopause was delayed by moderate alcohol consumption, since “alcohol consumption was significantly correlated with oestrogen levels.” Though binge drinking (five or more drinks in one day) is the most detrimental, in terms of hormonal disruption and other health problems, this study suggests that moderate alcohol consumption needs further analysis to determine its health impact.
Alcohol and Testosterone
Alcohol consumption can decrease testosterone—but it depends how much you drink.
According to studies by the Testosterone Centres of Texas, “alcohol is the enemy of testosterone.” Testosterone is important for both men and women (although men have much more)! It’s well-known as the hormone for sex drive and libido, but it is a key player in muscle formation, bone mass, fat distribution, and brain health. Low testosterone (caused by alcohol or something else) in both men and women can result in brain fog, fatigue, irritability, lower muscle mass, and lower motivation.
The Testosterone Centres study goes on to cite that the decrease in testosterone is in direct relation to the amount of alcohol consumed, which poses the question: How much is too much?
In this study, the findings suggest that drinking two to three beers a day caused a “slight” reduction in testosterone for men and none for women, a good sign that moderate drinking doesn’t have that huge of an impact. The way in which alcohol affects hormone levels is related to the chemicals alcohol contains. Beer and wine contain chemicals that can increase oestrogen, thereby lowering testosterone.
Risks of Heavy Drinking
Heavy drinking (more than three drinks a day) is the real culprit for all kinds of health maladies in both men and women: weight gain, lowered testosterone levels in men, and increased testosterone, by up to 60% higher, in women, hence the aggression and arguments that arise, levels. Both sexes are affected in terms of fertility. Studies have shown that men who drink in excess suffer from both fertility and “abnormally low testosterone.”
The citation of breakdown of marriages as alcohol misuse, has risen by 70% of the last 5 years, backed up by top divorce lawyer Amanda McAllister. It is for these reasons, and many others, that rehabilitation for alcohol abuse is necessary to extend the health and vitality of active adults.