The body’s hormones work together to coordinate a complex system, regulating necessary functions to keep us healthy in body and mind. They help to carry out certain functionality like growth, metabolism, and fertility; additionally, they can also impact the immune system and even alter behavior. Estrogen, a sex hormone found in women, is responsible for female characteristics and reproduction. Drinking is said to have some impact on this vital hormone. Estrogen and alcohol metabolism, in fact, may cause specific issues. Does alcohol affect estrogen levels?
If alcohol consumption has become problematic, it’s important to seek help. Recovery from alcohol abuse is possible and with supportive care, changes can improve overall quality of life. If you’re wanting to learn more about our alcohol treatment services, contact us at 855-281-5588.
What Is Estrogen?
Estrogen helps bring about the physical changes that turn a girl into a woman. This time of life is called puberty. These changes include:
- Growth of the breasts
- Female reproductive system
In addition to regulating the menstrual cycle, estrogen affects the reproductive tract, the urinary tract, the heart and blood vessels, bones, breasts, skin, hair, mucous membranes, pelvic muscles, and the brain. Secondary sexual characteristics, such as pubic and armpit hair, also start to grow when estrogen levels rise. Many organ systems, including the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems, and the brain are affected by estrogen.
How Do Hormones Work?
Hormones are chemicals produced by your body that act as messengers that help control and coordinate how your body works and responds to your environment.
You have special glands in your body that produce and release hormones when signaled by your brain. You also have special hormone-specific receptors in your body that receive these chemical messages. (Think of receptors as locks and hormones as keys.)
For hormones to function properly, their amount and the timing of their release must be finely coordinated, and the target tissues must be able to respond to them accurately. Ethanol can impair the functions of the hormone-releasing glands and of the target tissues, thereby causing medical consequences.
How Does Alcohol Effect Estrogen Levels?
Estrogen and alcohol metabolism is important to understand. Alcohol is noteworthy for its ability to enter and affect nearly every system in the human body. The endocrine system, and our hormones, are no exception.
While small amounts of alcohol may not have any serious impact, chronic alcohol abuse can cause significant changes to a person’s hormones. In extreme cases, hormonal imbalances due to alcohol addiction can lead to a number of serious illnesses, and cause reproductive and mental health problems.
Hormones affected by alcohol include:
- “Feel good” hormones, such as dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin
- Stress hormones, such as cortisol
- Hormones linked to bone growth
- Hormones that regulate blood sugar
- Sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone
Estrogen and Alcohol Metabolism
Hormones act as chemical messengers to control and coordinate the functions of the body’s tissues and organs. When the hormone system is working properly, the exact amount of hormone is released at exactly the right time and the tissues of the body accurately respond to those messages.
Drinking alcohol can impair the functions of the glands that release hormones and the functions of the tissues targeted by the hormones, which can result in medical problems. When alcohol impairs the hormone system’s ability to work properly, it can disrupt these major bodily functions:
- Growth and development
- Maintenance of blood pressure and bone mass
- Production, utilization, and storage of energy
Research with laboratory animals has also revealed that alcohol’s impact on hormonal pathways can influence alcohol-seeking behavior. Scientists believe that alcohol-seeking behavior is regulated in part by the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal axis.
Reproductive Functions & Alcohol
There are many hormones in the body that regulate the reproductive system. The two main hormones—androgens (testosterone) and estrogens (estradiol)—are synthesized in the testes and ovaries. These hormones affect various reproductive functions. In men, they are responsible for:
- Aspects of male sexual behavior
- Sexual maturation
- Sperm development and therefore fertility
In women, hormones perform many functions, including:
- Breast development
- Development of secondary sexual characteristics
- Distribution of body hair
- Help in maintaining pregnancy
- Regulating the menstrual cycle
Chronic drinking can interfere with all of these reproductive functions. Alcohol can impair the adequate functioning of the testes and ovaries and result in hormonal deficiencies, sexual dysfunction, and infertility.
Safety Tips for Alcohol Consumption
To prevent effects on estrogen and effect on progesterone levels, consider safety tips when consuming alcohol. There’s no entirely safe way to consume alcohol, but if you choose to drink, these tips can help reduce some risks:
- Make sure you eat. Avoid drinking on an empty stomach to avoid becoming intoxicated too fast.
- Drink plenty of water. For every standard drink you consume, aim to have a glass of water.
- Don’t go too fast. Drink slowly to give your body plenty of time to process the alcohol. Your liver can process about 1 ounce of alcohol every hour.
- Don’t mix with other substances. Mixing alcohol with caffeine can hide the depressant effects of alcohol, making you drink more than you might otherwise. Combining alcohol with other drugs can also have adverse effects.
- Don’t drink and drive. Never drive while intoxicated. Even if you feel like you’ve sobered up, you may still have alcohol in your system that can affect your reaction time.
It’s important to note that alcohol is a highly addictive substance and continued use can quickly spiral into abuse. If you or a loved one is battling with alcohol consumption on a regular basis, it’s important to speak with qualified addiction specialists. Estrogen and alcohol metabolism can have a significant impact on natural processes.
AspenRidge Alcohol Recovery
AspenRidge can help address both short-term and long-term problems from alcoholism. AspenRidge has developed highly effective alcohol treatment programs in Colorado that can handle all levels of alcohol use disorders. AspenRidge can provide safe and effective support for a long-term healthy and sober lifestyle. The staff are highly trained in assessment and can provide effective counseling options for potential alcohol disorders. AspenRidge offers many online and telehealth tools available during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contact AspenRidge Recovery Centers at 855-678-3144 to speak to staff about various programs and treatment methods for alcohol, drug, and other co-occurring disorders. Further information can also be found at www.aspenridgerecoverycenters.com. Gaining knowledge prior to taking the steps towards recovery is crucial, and AspenRidge is determined to help in the recovery process and connect those with proper medical professionals.