Acute effects of ethanol on sex hormones in non-alcoholic men and women

Alcohol Alcohol Suppl. 1987;1:109-16.


Chronic alcohol consumption has long been known to interfere with reproductive function and sexual behavior, but specific effects of acute alcohol ingestion on sex hormones have been studied only recently. An attempt is made in this review to summarize and explain conflicting results from studies of the acute effects of alcohol on the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, with healthy non-alcoholic men and women as subjects. In men, moderate to high doses of ethanol have been reported to suppress plasma testosterone. Although some clinical studies have not supported this observation, considerable evidence documents direct alcohol inhibition of testosterone biosynthesis in the testis. After alcohol ingestion, plasma LH remains unchanged or increases, probably because of reduced androgen negative feedback. In analogous studies with women during the late follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, alcohol does not decrease plasma estradiol or alter LH levels. Furthermore, it has been reported that plasma levels of estradiol, progesterone and testosterone increase during alcohol treatment in the midluteal phase, while gonadotropins tend to decrease. Alcohol has no effect on LH secretion in post-menopausal women. Because reports on the acute effects of alcohol in men have not been consistent, it remains to be determined if acute alcohol effects in men and women are really different. In men, provocative tests of gonadotropin response to LHRH stimulation were normal during periods of intoxication and hangover, indicating that ethanol has no significant direct effect on LH secretion at the pituitary level. It seems more likely that alcohol changes plasma levels of sex steroids by altering hepatic, gonadal, and possibly adrenal metabolism.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / blood*
  • Humans
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Male
  • Prolactin / blood
  • Rats
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Ethanol
  • Testosterone
  • Estradiol
  • Prolactin
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone