Chronic heavy drinking is bad for you, we all know this, but if you’re a man, have you heard that heavy regular drinking might also make you less manly!?!
Alcohol does funny things to testosterone levels; none of them good. Studies have shown that when consumed in binge amounts, some men may react by showing a temporary surge in testosterone levels; a hormonal jump that may well in part explain drunken aggression. Other studies have shown, contrarily, that binge drinking causes an acute reduction in testosterone levels, for about a day or so.
In general though, heavy, lengthy and regular use of alcohol has a diminishing effect on testosterone levels. Heavy regular alcohol use robs men of normal testosterone levels, which causes a number of negative health effects.
Chronic use of opiate pain medications, such as vicodin, oxycontin or others, is also known to diminish testosterone levels.
The Consequences of Lowered Testosterone Levels Include:
- A decrease in sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Weight gain (fat gain, especially around the mid section)
- A loss of lean muscle
- Body hair loss
- A decrease in bone mass and a resultant increase in the risks of breaks and fractures
- Male breasts
- Shrinking testes
- An increase in certain cardiovascular disease risks (men with very low testosterone levels are at a very high risk of heart attack)
Countering Alcohol Induced Testosterone Deficiencies
Lower than healthy testosterone levels can cause symptoms that are unpleasant, unattractive and downright dangerous. If alcohol causes you to lose testosterone, an obvious first step to restoring a better hormonal balance is a dramatic reduction or cessation of alcohol use.
Other methods that can increase testosterone include:
- Exercise – weight lifting type exercises increase testosterone levels more than cardio exercises
- Weight loss – carrying extra fat, especially a body weight that is 30% or more above ideal, can lead to hormonal imbalances
- Getting a full night’s sleep
- Diminishing chronic stress in your life (stress is a testosterone killer)
- Good nutrition. Although weight loss is a great way to boost testosterone levels, crash diets can have the opposite effects. Stick to sensible healthy eating and exercise for weight loss.
Talk to your doctor if you worry that your testosterone levels may be low. An accurate diagnosis of the problem is always a solid first step to a good solution.
If, after a diagnosis of low testosterone levels, you find yourself still drinking alcohol at anything above a very minimal amount and infrequently, you may need to reevaluate your relationship with alcohol – after all, continuing to drink even knowing the harms that alcohol does to your body, is a hallmark sign of an alcohol problem.