Drinking Just This Much Alcohol Can Seriously Mess with Your Hormones

Updated: Apr. 05, 2021

Feeling like your hormones are out of wack? Time to check your alcohol intake.

Alcoholurbazon/ShutterstockWe all have different ways to indulge and unwind, and for many people, alcohol is definitely on that list. And while lots of research has shown a glass of wine a day can keep the heart doctor away, other research has shown too much alcohol is a recipe for organ disaster. Alcohol and our health is a complex conversation, and it’s about to get even more interesting when you factor in hormones.

According to clinical studies, consuming alcohol moderately affects your health depending on where you’re at in your life. For instance, at 40-years old, your body may not be able to consume the same amount and type of alcohol as it could when you were 20. (Anyone who has surpassed their younger years likely doesn’t need a study to tell them that!) But as far as hormones go, for a woman, because they fluctuate with age, less alcohol consumption is needed to have larger hormonal effects as time goes on.

A review of studies published in the medical journal Alcohol and Alcoholism found that, for women in their 40s and 50s, even just “moderate” consumption of alcohol (one drink per day) can affect the hormonal system.

In fact, according to research published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, drinking alcohol can cause a spike in estrogen levels and a decline in progesterone in premenopausal women.

Symptoms of high estrogen include:

  • bloating
  • swelling and tenderness in the breasts
  • decreased sex drive
  • irregular menstrual periods
  • headaches
  • mood swings

Meanwhile, low progesterone levels can make it difficult for women to get pregnant or carry a baby to full term, and symptoms include:

  • low sex drive
  • migraines
  • hot flashes
  • abnormal uterine bleeding

And it’s not only women who are affected. One study, published by the Testosterone Centers of Texas concluded that “alcohol is the enemy of testosterone.” This hormone is important for both men and women, and low levels in people can cause various issues, including:

  • brain fog
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • lower
  • muscle mass
  • lower motivation

The Testosterone Centers study found that drinking two to three beers caused a “slight” reduction of the hormone in men, but none for women. And as for what causes the decrease, the researchers note that chemicals found in beer and wine boost estrogen levels, which in turn decrease testosterone levels.

It’s important to note that all of these findings don’t show severe effects of moderate drinking, though it does need to be analyzed more. But how are you supposed to know what’s moderate for you? The best thing to do is talk to your doctor!

Looking to cut back on booze? Here are 17 tried-and-tested tips to get you started.