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Does Alcohol Lower Testosterone?

Alcohol is the enemy of testosterone.

A mug of beer, just the handle — does alcohol lower testosterone?

But only in large doses.

I wrote several articles a few years back about the effects of beer and wine on testosterone levels, where I talked about this question: does alcohol lower testosterone?

The answer is simple: yes, it does.

It’s unfortunate, but it’s true, and it’s not just alcohol itself that decreases testosterone levels—other ingredients also play a role.

Before you get too worried, I want to stress that moderate alcohol consumption is unlikely to destroy your testosterone levels and is only associated with a slight decrease in testosterone (for this article, moderate consumption is defined as about 2-3 beers a day).

In fact, light and moderate alcohol consumption both seem to have a variety of health benefits, including reduced heart failure risk, reduced heart attack risk, reduced stroke risk, reduced dementia risk, reduced diabetes risk… you get the picture. A little bit of alcohol each week is probably fine—just don’t overdo it.

Exactly how alcohol lowers testosterone is a bit strange—and it takes place on several levels.

How Does Alcohol Lower Testosterone?

So, how does alcohol lower testosterone?

The answer varies depending on the type of alcohol you drink—and it also varies greatly between the sexes.

Beer, for instance, often contains two chemicals that can increase estrogen (and therefore decrease testosterone): phytoestrogen and prolactin. These chemicals are found in hops and in barley, two very common ingredients in many beers.

Wine also contains phytoestrogen (a chemical contained in many plants), and even some liquors (like bourbon) contain these chemicals.

These chemicals can increase a man’s natural levels of estrogen, reducing his testosterone levels.

The added calories from too many beers also causes men to gain weight—and fat has a nasty tendency to produce even more estrogen.

But it doesn’t end there. For men, ethanol alcohol is a testicular toxin, and we’ve known for decades that, in large doses, it reduces testosterone function, sperm count, fertility, and can even damage the testes.

In fact, alcoholic men often suffer infertility and abnormally low testosterone.

Women actually have the opposite problem—excessive alcohol consumption often leads to increased testosterone levels, sometimes even resulting in the loss of female sexual characteristics.

Starting to get the picture? Too much alcohol plays havoc with your body’s ability to produce hormones correctly, no matter your sex.

But what about alcohol use in moderation? Does alcohol lower testosterone if used sparingly?

Moderate Alcohol Consumption Is Probably Good for You

Now for the good news—moderate alcohol consumption is probably ok.

In a study on moderate alcohol use, researchers found that drinking the equivalent of 2-3 beers a day resulted in very slight testosterone decreases for men (and no decreases for women).

And there’s even more good news: the same study was focused not so much on testosterone as on another hormone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (more commonly known as DHEA-S). They found that this same level of drinking increased DHEA-S, possibly resulting in a protective effect on the heart.

While those results are far from conclusive, they certainly point in the right direction.

So, if you drink, how much should you drink, and how often?

For many people, 2-3 beers a day wouldn’t be considered “moderate.” Instead, 2-3 beers a week might be more realistic. If you’re only drinking a few beers or glasses of wine a week (say, just drinking on the weekends), you have little to worry about.

Even 2-3 drinks a day seems to be acceptable—it’s binge drinking (5 or more drinks in a short period) that’s the real problem.

So, does alcohol lower testosterone? It sure does—but if you control your use, you don’t have anything to worry about.

To learn more about how alcohol affects testosterone levels, read my article about beer and testosterone.

—Augie Galindo, PA-C

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(Augie) Juan Augustine Galindo Jr. MPAS, PA-C

(Augie) Juan Augustine Galindo Jr. MPAS, PA-C started his career in healthcare as a fireman/paramedic in West Texas where he served on the Midland Fire Department from 1998-2004.   He became interested in testosterone treatment after seeing how hormone replacement doctors helped those suffering from low testosterone.   After graduating from the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center Physician Assistant Program, he moved to DFW where he currently lives with his wife and three children.

14 Comments

  1. Trey on 03/22/2016 at 8:38 am

    Good to know!

    • TRT Provider on 04/29/2016 at 6:15 pm

      Thank you for commenting Trey, I’m glad you found it helpful!

  2. Paul Jacoby on 09/26/2016 at 9:37 pm

    2-3 beers a day well beers range now from 3%-12% I wish they would be more specific

    • Augie Galindo on 10/02/2016 at 3:50 pm

      Paul,

      It does vary quite a bit. Think of it this way. A standard American domestic beer is 5% ABV and 12 ounces. That means that 0.6 oz or 18 mL of each beer is ethanol. So, 18 mL X 3 beers, is a recommendation of no more than 54 mL of ethanol daily. That being said, the higher alcohol content beers often have more hops which have more of an effect on estrogen.

      Best regards,
      Augie Galindo MPAS, PA-C
      Testosterone Centers of Texas | Founding Partner

      • emil on 11/14/2016 at 4:28 pm

        i was just wondering what effect will have drinking bottle of white vine vs bottle of 8 percent beer? would the beer be worst than the vine because of the extra hops content.thanks.

        • Augie Galindo on 11/22/2016 at 11:25 am

          Emil,

          The worse effect will be with the higher amount of ethanol ingested, the hops will play a role, but less of one by comparison.

          Best regards,
          Augie Galindo MPAS, PA-C
          Testosterone Centers of Texas | Founding Partner

  3. leonel on 03/29/2017 at 10:24 am

    a glass at dinner will lower your tone?

    • TRT Provider on 03/29/2017 at 11:24 am

      A glass of wine at dinner, as long as it’s the only alcohol you’re drinking that day, shouldn’t lower your testosterone. Researchers found that drinking the equivalent of 2-3 beers a day resulted in very slight testosterone decreases for men (and no decreases for women).

  4. John on 07/25/2017 at 8:13 pm

    What if you abused drinking beer causing a lower testosterone level. Is that lower level permanent, or will cutting back on beer (and hard alcohol) help your testosterone rise to normal levels?

    • Augie Galindo on 08/03/2017 at 4:33 pm

      John,

      While there are no studies to confirm, it is presumed that a relatively short term overuse of alcohol would not produce an irreversible decline in testosterone production. So, if that is the sole reason for low T, reduction to moderate use would have positive impact on T levels. That doesn’t directly mean that there would be normal production given the likelihood of multifactorial testosterone suppression.

      Best regards,
      Augie Galindo MPAS, PA-C
      Testosterone Centers of Texas | Founding Partner

  5. Annetteshrewsberry on 08/10/2017 at 9:18 pm

    Well,what if you drink t tequila every night in excessive consumption does that affect your testosterone level?

    • Augie Galindo on 08/17/2017 at 8:08 am

      Annete,

      Most likely, it would negatively affect testosterone production.

      Best regards,
      Augie Galindo MPAS, PA-C
      Testosterone Centers of Texas | Founding Partner

  6. Lou on 10/23/2017 at 6:13 pm

    This explains so much. Very helpful.

    I have been noticing that my sexual appetite has been decreasing enormously. I thought I was just “getting old”.

    But I have been increasing my beer intake as well. I drink 6 beers a day as an absolute minimum. Since a couple of months. Cause I’m off work early in the day. So I open my first beer when I get home and quitely keep on sipping untill I go to bed.

    Geuss I’m going to switch to water.

    • Lou,

      Thank you for the feedback. Behavior modification is typically the healthiest and cheapest way to fix a health problem.

      Best regards,
      Augie Galindo MPAS, PA-C
      Testosterone Centers of Texas | Founding Partner

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