Alcohol's effects on male reproduction

Alcohol Health Res World. 1998;22(3):195-201.

Abstract

The male reproductive system consists of the hypothalamus, the anterior pituitary gland, and the testes. Alcohol can interfere with the function of each of these components, thereby causing impotence, infertility, and reduced male secondary sexual characteristics. In the testes, alcohol can adversely affect the Leydig cells, which produce and secrete the hormone testosterone. Studies found that heavy alcohol consumption results in reduced testosterone levels in the blood. Alcohol also impairs the function of the testicular Sertoli cells that play an important role in sperm maturation. In the pituitary gland, alcohol can decrease the production, release, and/or activity of two hormones with critical reproductive functions, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. Finally, alcohol can interfere with hormone production in the hypothalamus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / physiopathology*
  • Animals
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Fertility / drug effects*
  • Fertility / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / physiopathology*
  • Male

Substances

  • Ethanol