Effect of alcohol (ethanol) administration on sex-hormone metabolism in normal men

N Engl J Med. 1976 Oct 7;295(15):793-7. doi: 10.1056/NEJM197610072951501.


To determine whether ethanol per se affects testosterone metabolism, alcohol was administered to normal male volunteers for periods up to four weeks, resulting in an initial dampening of the episodic bursts of testosterone secretion followed by decreases in both the mean plasma concentration and the production rate of testosterone. The volunteers received adequate nutrition and none lost weight during the study, which tended to exclude a nutritional disturbance as the cause of the decreased testosterone levels. The changes in plasma luteinizing hormone suggested both a central (hypothalamus-pituitary) and gonadal effect of alcohol. In addition, alcohol consumption increased the metabolic clearance rate of testosterone in most subjects studied, probably owing to the combined effects of a decreased plasma binding capacity for the androgen and increased hepatic testosterone A-ring reductase activity. These results indicate that alcohol markedly affects testosterone metabolism independently of cirrhosis or nutritional factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 3-Oxo-5-alpha-Steroid 4-Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Androstenedione / blood
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate / drug effects
  • Protein Binding / drug effects
  • Secretory Rate / drug effects
  • Testosterone / metabolism*


  • Blood Proteins
  • Ethanol
  • Testosterone
  • Androstenedione
  • Estradiol
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • 3-Oxo-5-alpha-Steroid 4-Dehydrogenase