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, 295 (15), 835-6

Editorial: Sex and Alcohol: A Second Peek

Editorial: Sex and Alcohol: A Second Peek

D H Van Thiel et al. N Engl J Med.


PIP: The effects of alcohol on male sexual function is discussed. Various phenomena affecting sexual function in males have been reported: 1) increased conversion of androgens to estrogens in the liver, 2) interconversion of weak and potent estrogens, 3) increased rate of conversion of adrenocortical steroid precursor to estrogenic substances, 4) decreased plasma levels of luteinizing hormone(LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and 5) diminished uptake of androstenedione by the liver and increased peripheral conversion to estrone. It is proposed that the pathogenesis of feminization in alcoholic males may be due partly to the derivative effects of liver damage and to a direct action of alcohol on the testes. Rats fed alcohol have shown atrophy of the gonads and accessory organs, and impaired spermtogenesis. In normal men ingesting alcohol for short periods of time, the frequency and intensity of bursts of testosterone secretion by the testes is dampened, and testosterone concentrations and production rates are increased while the metabolic clearance of testosterone is diminished. Deranged hypothalamic-pituitary function has also been observed. Further research is needed to elucidate the mechanism(s) by which alcohol influences sexual function.

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