Alcohol And Its Effects On Testosterone

By: Rob Miller


How Alcohol Lowers Testosterone
The Alcohol-Testosterone Connection
Is There A Better or Worse Kind of Alcohol
Frequently Asked Questions
How To Counter the Effect of Alcohol on Testosterone Levels

The list of effects alcohol consumption can have on your health is long, and includes both positives and negatives.

On the positive side, the important thing to remember is that it only works if you drink in moderation.

A Couple Drinks Can Actually Be Beneficial

However, according to the Mayo Clinicthe potential benefits include:

  • Reduced risk of developing heart disease and/or dying from it if you already have it.
  • Reduced risk of certain strokes.
  • Reduced risk of diabetes.

Wine has been singled out as beneficial because of its abundance of resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in grapes.

Of course, along with the potential benefits are the health risks and negative side effects of alcohol use, especially if moderate turns into heavy or if you combine driving with your drinking.

And certainly if you’re not a drinker, there’s no need to add alcohol to your life in an effort to improve your health. A good diet and exercise program will do more good without the potential drawbacks.

Ultimately, the health effects of alcohol skew more toward the negative.

According to WebMD, alcohol use can be linked to more than 60 diseases, and that doesn’t even count the over 10,000 alcohol related motor vehicle deaths per year in the United States alone.

You’re probably familiar with most of them, including liver damage, cardiovascular disease, gout, depression, and high blood pressure, but there are many more.

An additional negative effect of alcohol consumption worth talking about is a drop in testosterone levels.

This is of particular interest to those of us interested in maintaining lean muscle mass and living healthy, fit lives.

So let’s dive right in.

How Alcohol Lowers Testosterone

alcohol testosterone 5

It’s pretty much an undisputed fact that testosterone lowers a man’s testosterone, but exactly how and how much are not quite as universally agreed upon.

Anecdotal Evidence

You can usually find lively discussions among fitness-focused men of all levels at the forums over at

alcohol testosterone forum

Opinions range from the guy who adamantly believe that drinking will absolutely stall your efforts because of its lowering effects on T to the guy who think that’s total rubbish and see themselves as more strong and ripped the day after a night out.

Take a look at a few of the responses to a young bodybuilder asking the community for their opinions on whether or not what he’s heard about alcohol lowering testosterone levels is true:

Alcohol forum response 1

Alcohol forum response 2

Alcohol Testosterone 3

It looks to me like a lot of rationalizing, but it’s hard to argue with personal experience.

One responder tried to back up his claims with a brief science lesson:

alcohol testosterone 4

Clearly there are many differing opinions about alcohol’s effect on testosterone levels, which is why now we’ll shift our focus to what science has to say on the matter.

The Alcohol-Testosterone Connection

The truth is, a few drinks here and there will not cause any dramatic effect on testosterone levels.

But once you start regularly consuming enough alcohol to get drunk, you will notice a drop, usually first becoming apparent in your sexual function and performance.

alcohol causes ed

The thing about the connection between alcohol consumption and decrease testosterone levels is that it occurs through not just one mechanism, but several:

  1. The Ethanol in alcoholic drinks causes oxidative damage to the Leydig Cells that produce testosterone in your testicles.

    Damaged Leydig Cells will not function at their highest levels.

    Antioxidants may help protect against this oxidative damage, but they will never be able to inhibit it completely.
  2. Frequent alcohol consumption increases the activity of the Aromatase enzyme, causing an increase in the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. This decreases testosterone dramatically in two ways.

    First, the conversion itself of testosterone to estrogen lessens the amount of testosterone present.

    Second, the increased presence of estrogen signals the testosterone producing mechanism within the body to halt production.

    In other words, abundant estrogen is a marker for the body, indicating that it has enough testosterone and doesn’t need to produce more.
  3. Alcohol, as part of its relaxing and depressive effect, causes the brain to release beta-opioid endorphins.

    This in turn lowers the production and release of testosterone.
  4. The metabolism of Ethanol decreases the amount of NAD+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) within both the liver and the testes.

    Since NAD+ is necessary for healthy testosterone production, said production is reduced.

With so many contributing factors, it’s easy to see how consistently drinking large quantities of alcohol will have a negative impact on your testosterone levels.Over the long term, the increase in estrogen is likely to be the biggest drag on your progress.

alcohol testosterone feminization

Estrogen itself causes feminization – ie fat gain, strength loss, gynecomastia – and on top of that, it signals a shut down of testosterone production. The one-two punch is hard to dismiss.

Is There A Better or Worse Kind of Alcohol?

When considering the estrogenic aspects of drinking, beer is the biggest culprit has to be beer.

Hops, a prominent ingredient in beer used as both a flavoring and a preservative, contains phytoestrogens.

The Hops used in beer are the female flowers of the plant, and are powerfully estrogenic. In fact, it is believed that Hops were historical taken by monks to help reduce their sexual desire.

So on the occasions you do decide to drink, beer may not be your best option.

Instead, think about red wine, which is a much better option for at least two reasons:

1. The Resveratrol in red wine is actually an aromatase inhibitor.

So while alcohol itself can increase estrogen in the body, the resveratrol in red wine (from the skin of grapes) reduces the conversion of testosterone to estrogen, counteracting at least some of the estrogenic effects of alcohol intake.
2. Red wine contains flavonoids that slow down the metabolism, and therefore excretion, of testosterone.

This means less of your valuable testosterone is eliminated as waste in urine, leaving more to continue to circulate through the bloodstream.

When it comes to hard liquor, it’s definitely a better choice than beer; it’s even been shown to actually increase Free T levels temporarily if taken after workouts, but it’s unclear whether this phenomenon was because levels were actually higher or because the inebriated bodies weren’t using the testosterone that was present from the increase caused by resistance training.

Frequently Asked Questions

As we noted earlier in the section on Anecdotal evidence, there are lots of differing opinions on how exactly alcohol consumption affects testosterone.

Discussion of these differing opinions leads to lots of residual questions.

Here are just a few:

Can I drink While Undergoing Testosterone Replacement Therapy?

This is a tricky question and the answer is a bit tricky as well.

TRT alone carries its own risks, notably to your cardiovascular health.

Men taking TRT have shown a 30% increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and death as compared to men who aren’t involved with TRT.

Perhaps even more scary, one study showed that men over 65 who took TRT drugs had 100% more heart attacks than those who did not.

Frequent excessive drinking cumulatively adds to the the cardiovascular risks that are already increased by the TRT.

Also if you’re taking oral TRT, its metabolism takes a toll on your liver that drinking alcohol will surely exacerbate.

Does Alcohol Lower Your Testosterone Permanently?

There are studies demonstrating the effects of alcohol on testosterone levels that range from the immediate to the near term, but no studies have determined a permanent change in the way the body produces, uses, or metabolizes testosterone due to alcoholic intake.

Further, none of the studies on those immediate and near term reductions indicate a mechanism that would lead to permanent physiological changes.

How Does Alcohol Affect Estrogen Levels

We touched on this earlier when we discussed the several ways alcohol can lead to reduced testosterone levels.

Beer in particular, because of the particularly potent phytoestrogens in hops, does increase the presence of estrogen in the body.

The serious effect is demonstrated in a study of female ratswho could not produce estrogen on their own because their ovaries had been removed.

Due to consumption of alcohol, their bodies exhibited estrogen-like effects, even when that consumption was moderate.

Add the aromatase effect that increases the conversion of testosterone to estrogen,and yes indeed, alcohol has a profound effect on estrogen levels.

Does Alcohol Affect Testosterone and Estrogen Levels in Women Too?

It does.

Women who drink alcohol have been shown to have increased amounts of estrogen, just as is the case with men who drink alcohol.

This is due to phytoestrogens and an increase in aromatase just as is found with men.

The concern raised by increased estrogen levels in women mainly revolve around an increased risk of breast cancer.

There is a difference, however, when it comes to testosterone.

Moderate drinking reduces testosterone levels in men, but does not appear to do so in women.

What’s The Biggest Myth About Alcohol and Testosterone?

A look at the bodybuilding forums shows the high degree of concern over the use of alcohol and its effect on testosterone.

While the concerns are highly valid where heavy consumption is involved, the effect of a more moderate intake appears to have a lot of guys more worried than they need to be, at least in terms of testosterone.

If you’re working on improving your body, alcohol has no positive role to play, but this is for a number of reasons, not just testosterone.

Alcohol provides a lot of empty carbohydrate calories, it’s got little to no nutritional value, and regular use can take a toll on your schedule, making it harder to hit the gym when you know you need to.

In other words, it’s not all about testosterone.

How To Counter the Effect of Alcohol on Testosterone Levels

The good news is if you’re a moderate drinker and you want to maintain sufficient testosterone levels, there are steps you can take, and they generally include living an overall healthy lifestyle.

First, focus on eating clean, healthy foods that balance your macro-nutrients properly.

To produce copious amounts of testosterone, you need to eat a sufficient amount of saturated fats like those you’ll find in beef, you need to get enough zinc from foods like shellfish and pumpkin seeds, and you need to eat cruciferous vegetables to reduce the conversion of testosterone to estrogen.

Look for more foods to boost your testosterone levels in my article: 63 Foods That Boost Testosterone Naturally.

Second, make sure you’re working out in a testosterone friendly way.

Resistance training will boost T levels, while cardio will tend to reduce them.

So lift heavy weight on a regular basis and don’t overdo your time on the treadmill.

For a more thorough exploration of testosterone friendly lifestyle choices, sign up for my free ebook: How To Boost Your Testosterone Naturally


You may have heard horror stories about how if you want to maintain high testosterone levels, you need to totally quit drinking alcohol.

Judging from the questions I get from readers on the subject, you aren’t alone.

There’s a lot of scary “information” floating around, especially on community platforms and forums.

The truth is there is an alcohol-testosterone connection, and if you like to drink to excess several times a week, you will negatively affect your levels.

Even moderate drinking will reduce levels, but to a much smaller degree – estimates hover around a 7% reduction for the casual drinker.

The problem is it’s a multi-front attack.

Alcohol increases estrogen, which not only tilts your hormonal balance in the wrong direction with phytoestrogens and increased aromatase, but adds insult to injury by signaling the shut down of further testosterone production.

All this is even before considering the cyto-toxic effect on your Leydig cells.

The bottom line is that purists should probably stay away from alcohol altogether, not chancing the very real potential for a drop in levels. But most guys aren’t purists.

For the vast majority of us, the answer lies in moderation, combined with lifestyle changes that can mitigate whatever small negative effect moderate alcohol intake will have.

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Author: Rob Miller

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Rob Miller founded over 7 years ago, and has been the chief editor ever since. He has a diploma in Advanced Dietary Supplements Advisor, and worked at GNC for 3 years. He KNOWS supplements, both inside and out. Rob currently resides in Jupiter, FL, with his wife of 4 years.  Learn more about him in his Bio here. Follow him on Twitter , Facebook, LinkedIn, or find him on Google +.

3 comments on “Alcohol And Its Effects On Testosterone”

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  1. After reading an article you wrote about Primal Growth I found this article on the site. Now I have to stop drinking instead trying things like Primal Growth.

    Frankly I’m impressed with your articles and your research. You have a bright future! Thanks Jerry

    1. Glad I could help Jerry! I wish more people could see the articles I write, they tend to get buried in the search results which is a real shame!

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