Alcohol abuse is a silent epidemic. Drinking has been a common pastime for some people. Whether with friends or alone, a couple of glasses of alcohol can be a great way to end a night or week. While there’s nothing wrong with drinking alcohol, too much of it could negatively affect one’s body. Notably, alcohol abuse could result in adverse health effects, including poor immune functions and even sexual dysfunctions for men.
Suppose you or you know someone struggling to control their alcohol intake. In that case, you can encourage them to seek professional help from rehabilitation facilities like Jackson House Addiction Treatment & Recovery Centers and other similar services to treat symptoms of alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence.
This article will outline insights that may help enrich your knowledge about the impacts of alcohol on your body and overall health and well-being, including male fertility and sexual functions.
More Than a Hangover: Alcohol and the Human Body
It’s well established that excessive alcohol drinking can cause health problems. However, not all people know the severity of the impacts of alcohol abuse on the body. It may affect a person’s well-being, normal functioning, and even fertility.
For starters, alcohol abuse is a medical condition characterized by the continuous consumption of too much alcohol despite the risks of adverse problems. Otherwise known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), this condition can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on the patients’ misuse, dependence, and behavior.
Without proper care and attention, alcohol abuse can result in the gradual deterioration of the immune system. Apart from that, listed below are some of the most common impacts of alcohol abuse on the body.
- The brain is mainly affected by excessive alcohol intake. It can affect the cerebral cortex, limbic system, and cerebellum, slow down chemical processes in the brain, and block communication pathways. It can also increase inhibitory neurotransmission and hamper excitatory neurotransmission. Consequently, AUD can lead to poor cognitive functions, slower reflexes, mood swings, and memory loss.
- Alcohol abuse could also increase the risks of diabetes and heart ailments since it enhances the production of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood. High triglyceride levels could result in irregular heartbeats, hypertension, stroke, heart attack, and cardiomyopathy.
- In terms of one’s digestive processes, excessive alcohol consumption results in abnormal activation of digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas, resulting in pancreatitis. It’d also inhibit detoxification processes, developing alcohol-related liver diseases (ARLDs). Additionally, AUD increases the risks of gassiness, bloating, lack of appetite, and diarrhea.
- One’s immune system may also get affected by alcoholism. Since alcohol hinders the average production of white blood cells in one’s body, it can’t fend off harmful pathogens and disease-causing bacteria.
- People struggling with alcohol abuse may also suffer from weaker, brittle bones due to lower calcium levels. Long-term consumption of alcohol could knock off calcium levels, which can result in muscle weakness, cramping, and atrophy.
Men and Alcohol Abuse: Things To Know
Compared to women, men can engage more in binge drinking. Specifically, a study shows that 22% of men regularly participate in heavy drinking and may do so five or more times a month, resulting in many adverse health problems. On average, men could also take eight drinks per binge, increasing the risks of fertility-related aftereffects.
Men suffering from alcohol abuse may also experience a drastic decrease in sex drive, reduced sperm count, and other forms of sexual dysfunctions. Experts also believe that about 35% of infertility cases among men are heavily influenced by excessive alcohol consumption. Also, consuming five drinks within two hours or 15 mixed drinks in a week (two drinks per sitting) could affect male fertility.
To better understand this matter, you can continue reading the impacts of alcohol abuse on male fertility listed below.
- Increases the Risks of Erectile Dysfunctions
No one wants to suffer from any sexual dysfunction. The inability to perform or enjoy sexual intercourse can be a terrifying experience during the onset of alcohol abuse. However, such possibilities aren’t impossible if one continues to drink uncontrollably.
For instance, drinking excessive alcohol could make it harder to get or maintain an erection in males. This condition is called erectile dysfunction (ED). It’s characterized by the inability to attain or sustain a penile erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. The types of erectile dysfunctions usually vary from acquired, situational, or lifelong.
Long-term consumption of alcohol may significantly disrupt the chemical processes and pathways in the brain responsible for sending signals and sensations to the penis. Thus, affecting the production of testosterone and male sexual functions.
- Hampers Sexual Responses
Alcohol serves as a depressant, which could dampen mood, lessen one’s sexual urges, hamper sexual responses, and prevent one from reaching an orgasm. That said, it can then interfere with one’s ability to feel sexual stimulation and get a penile erection.
By hindering the standard transmission of signals between the brain and male genitalia, the man may experience the following:
- Have a hard time ejaculating;
- Difficulty in prolonging ejaculations, resulting in premature ejaculation
- Trouble in experiencing orgasms, or their orgasms may feel less intense.
- Poor Sex Drive (Libido)
Aside from preventing people from performing or enjoying sexual intercourse, alcohol abuse may also result in lower sex drives or libido. It’s mainly because the body can’t produce sufficient testosterone needed to sustain a penile erection. Not just that, but the deficiency in testosterone levels may also lessen sexual urges, leading to poor sexual desire.
Lowering a man’s libido may make it more challenging for them to want sexual intercourse or perform well during the deed. They may also give lesser regard to sexual performances due to reduced sexual sensitivities and sexual arousal. Over time, decreased sexual urges could affect sexual connections between partners.
- Disrupts Hormonal Balance
Excessive alcohol drinking affects the males’ bodies in many ways. It could hamper the sexual processes and production of sexual hormones. Specifically, alcohol could impact the normal functioning of a man’s hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis. The HPG axis makes up the male reproductive system, consisting of the hypothalamus, testes, and anterior pituitary gland.
In the pituitary gland, excessive amounts of alcohol could reduce the production and release of chemicals essential for reproductive functions. It may also affect luteinizing hormones and follicle-stimulating hormones. Men may also suffer from reduced fertility and difficulty in feeling sexual sensitivities.
While women may suffer from early menopause, disruptions in menstrual cycles with ovulation, and irregular menstrual cycles, males, on the other hand, may experience hormonal imbalance due to alcohol abuse.
- Reduces Testosterone Levels
Since alcohol mainly affects a man’s reproductive system, luteinizing hormones may not send signals to the testes to produce testosterone. It would then result in a drastic decrease in testosterone levels and affect sperm motility.
One of the main functions of testosterone is to help the production of sperm in the testicles. Without sufficient testosterone to assist such processes, there won’t be enough sperm cells needed for normal reproduction processes.
- Affects Sperm Motility
A common consequence of long-term alcohol consumption is the increased risks of infertility in men. As mentioned earlier, lower testosterone levels can affect sperm motility and sperm count. It may also affect the size and shape of sperms.
Heavy drinker males may also encounter azoospermia, the condition wherein there’s no sperm in their semen during ejaculation.
Although it’s worth noting that there are other causes of reduced sperm count in a man’s semen, the more a man drinks alcohol on a given day, the greater chances of him suffering from abnormal sperm count and infertility.
- Stimulate Estrogen Production
Estrogen is the ‘female’ hormone, while testosterone is the ‘male’ hormone. However, that doesn’t mean that these are only limited to specific sexes. To set things straight, males and females both have estrogen and testosterone levels in their bodies. While the ovaries produce a small amount of testosterone into females’ bloodstream, the testes also make up 20% of circulating estrogens.
However, it’s crucial to note that alcohol abuse can alter the average estrogen production in a man’s body, resulting in higher estrogen levels in men. There are also cases wherein excessive alcohol consumption could turn testosterone precursor chemicals into estrogen. It would then affect hormonal balance in a man’s body.
Due to the reduced testosterone levels and hormonal imbalance, male-heavy drinkers might suffer from abnormal sperm structures. More so, high estrogen levels among men could also cause gynecomastia. It’s the overdevelopment or abnormal growth of breast tissues in men or boys.
- May Shrink Sex Organs
Believe it or not, alcohol abuse can’t only wreak havoc on your sexual performance but may also result in the gradual shrinking of sexual organs. As ridiculous as it may sound, some experts believe that there’s a possibility that excessive alcohol consumption could shrink males’ penis and testes. But, more studies and research are needed to prove these claims.
Such instances may happen due to the extreme damage in the seminiferous tubules responsible for producing and storing sperm cells. Too much alcohol consumption may also affect the Sertoli cells and the testes’ somatic cells and are responsible for spermatogenesis and testes formation. By involving the testicular Sertoli cells, alcohol may also hamper sperm maturation.
Final Words About Alcohol Abuse
Contrary to the conventional belief that drinking alcohol can benefit your body in some ways, it could bring more harm to you in the long run. After a series of intoxication and fleeting feelings of happiness, excessive consumption of alcohol can take a toll on your body. Visual impairment, poor cognitive functions, slower reflexes, weaker immune system, and infertility are among the most common consequences of alcohol abuse.
If you’re struggling with infertility and sexual dysfunctions due to alcohol abuse, worry not, as there are plenty of alternatives you can consider. This includes seeking help from rehabilitation facilities and consulting professionals. In addition, various treatments can help you address this health issue. For instance, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination, surgical procedures, and other assisted conception processes are among the best options for people struggling with infertility.
But, at the end of the day, the best approach is still controlling your alcohol intake and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption to improve fertility and maintain a healthy well-being.