What Does Drinking too Much do to Hormones?

Most people only become aware of the effect alcohol has on hormones when they are trying to have children. Studies show that drinking too much can reduce fertility in both women and men.

Conception isn’t the only way that alcohol influences hormones. It can put anything from growth hormones to menopause out of sync.

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If you are struggling with a hormone-related problem, you may want to consider stopping or cutting down on drinking.

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Why Does Alcohol Affect Hormones?

The reasons for alcohol unbalancing hormones depend on which hormones we are talking about.

Alcohol and Progesterone & Estrogen

This is one of the most widely studied because it impacts two important areas of female health reproduction, menopause and breast cancer.

Drinking regularly is shown by several studies to increase the levels of estrogen in the system. This brings down the level of progesterone which is needed to get and stay pregnant.

Alcohol and Menopause

There is scant evidence that drinking alcohol has an impact on the natural hormones during menopause. The issue with drinking during menopause is that it makes the symptoms worse. Many of the problems of menopause are the same as drinking too much:

  • Low mood – alcohol is a depressant and linked to increased mental health issues
  • Hot flashes – the way alcohol stimulates the blood vessels can trigger these and make them worse
  • Poor sleep – alcohol delays REM sleep, the type that makes you feel recovered and restored

Alcohol and perimenopause (meaning ‘around menopause’) can also be an issue. The period before menopause occurs can be one of the most difficult. Many changes are happening, and low mood is very common.

These issues make alcohol and menopause a dangerous cocktail. If you are finding your menopause is made worse by drinking too much, you may want help cutting down or stopping drinking.

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HRT and Alcohol

The evidence is mixed for drinking on HRT (Hormone replacement therapy) medication. While NICE Guidelines don’t recommend against it there is some concern if you are experiencing side effects.

Because of how alcohol affects estrogen, it does increase your chances of having adverse effects from HRT. If you are taking HRT and having these effects, it might be wise to stop drinking for a while and see if they improve.

During Postmenopause, many women use Utrogestan as a form of HRT. Combining Utrogestan and alcohol can lead to headaches, worse side effects and, according to several studies, an increased chance of breast cancer.

visual scientific hormones estrogen testosterone

Alcohol and Testosterone

Drinking heavily has the opposite effect on testosterone levels in men than in women. Testosterone is lower in men who drink too much regularly.

The consequences are erectile dysfunction, low fertility, weight gain and depression. This is due to lowering NAD+ levels in the body. NAD+ has many functions but in this case, it helps with testosterone production in your liver and testicles.

Testosterone is also reduced by lack of sleep and an increase in estrogen. This has other hormonal effects, such as increased male breast tissue and body hair loss.

In women, alcohol increases levels of testosterone. This can cause mood swings and irritability and interfere with your menstrual cycle, impacting fertility.

Alcohol and Hormones in Young Adults

Does Alcohol Stunt Growth?

You might think it is something of a myth that drinking alcohol in your youth can stunt your growth, but there is scientific evidence to the contrary.

Excessive drinking affects growth through hormones. These hormones reduce the calcium in the system, which has an impact on bone growth and health.

Also, alcohol reduces the levels of plasma growth hormones that act when we are sleeping. Reduced levels of these hormones reduce our physical growth and health.

Alcohol and Mental Health Hormones

We might not think of things like serotonin and dopamine as hormones as they are primarily focused on our brain functioning.

The hormones that are affected by alcohol, such as testosterone and estrogen, are involved with dopamine and serotonin levels too. This can change our sense of happiness, reward, and motivation.

The impact of alcohol on these hormones is usually positive for a very short period but very negative long term. This makes conditions like depression and anxiety much worse.

How Long for Hormones to Balance After Quitting Alcohol?

Thankfully, our bodies are very resilient and always want to get back to a state of balance. This is particularly true in the case of hormones.

While heavy drinkers may experience symptoms for several weeks or months after stopping, hormones are quick to get back to business.

Most mainstream hormones such as estrogen and testosterone will recover in a few weeks.

Mental health-related hormones such as serotonin will take longer to correct. This could take up to six months to a year. However, the improvement will be gradual but usually consistent.

Drinks to Balance Hormones

So it seems that alcohol causes problems in your hormonal balance if you drink too much. But what can we do about it and is there anything we can drink instead? There are several drinks you could substitute for alcohol to help improve your hormonal balance:

  • Green tea with lemon
  • Kombucha
  • Apple cider vinegar

If you are looking to stop or cut down on drinking for hormonal reasons, there are several ingredients in Desistal to help you do this. Apple cider vinegar can help restore normal levels after anxiety and low mood. MCT oil can help with appetite and digestion to improve weight gain and sleep issues. Perhaps the most interesting ingredient is Bacopa Monnieri which is being studied for its impact on several of the symptoms of menopause.

Alcohol detox supplements are a great way to balance your hormones after drinking too much over a long period. They help support a return to your natural balance and alleviate uncomfortable symptoms.

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https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/36/9/2538/6294415 The association between alcohol intake and fecundability during menstrual cycle phases

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11022013/ The effects of moderate alcohol consumption on female hormone levels and reproductive function

https://www.thepharmajournal.com/vol4Issue1/Issue_Mar_2015/4-1-11.1.pdf Effect of bacosides enriched standardized extract of Bacopa monniera (BESEB-CDRI-08) on lipid profile and blood pressure of postmenopausal women: a pilot study

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4192077/ Impact of medium and long-chain triglycerides consumption on appetite and food intake in overweight men

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23666047/ Intake of vinegar beverage is associated with restoration of ovulatory function in women with polycystic ovary syndrome