How Can Alcohol Affect Your Reproductive System?
The human reproductive system is an important system in the body which is essential in keeping the species alive. Reproduction is basically a process by which descendants is created by organisms. In reproduction, two types of sex cells are involved namely, sperm (male cell) and egg or ovum (female cell).
The reproductive system of both males and females are involved in producing, nourishing, and either the sperm or egg. The male reproductive system in the human body consists of testes, ducts, and glands. Sperms are produced in the testes and are transported through the ducts. The glands in the male reproductive system produce secretions that become a part of the male reproductive system. These glands include prostate gland, seminal vesicles, and bulbourethral glands.
There is no denying to say that alcohol addiction is one of the serious substance abuse. Alcohol has multiple effects on the health of an individual. Alcohol can have some serious immediate or short term effects on the human body. As the intake of alcohol increases, the effects become noticeable. Some of the immediate effects of excessive alcohol intake are as follows:
- Loss of balance
- Problems with coordination
Although alcohol has an effect on almost every organ in the human body, it has a significant impact on the male reproductive system. Alcohol can interfere with the functions of all the components of a male reproductive system. Primarily the male reproductive system consists of the hypothalamus in the brain, the anterior pituitary gland, and the testes. The anterior pituitary gland and the hypothalamus have regulatory functions which are mediated by the hormones that are secreted by these organs. Testes also produce hormones that are responsible for controlling sexual characteristics of the males and behavior.
Alcohol interferes with all of these components and has a result, it increases the risk of developing problems like impotence, erectile dysfunction, infertility, and reduced male secondary sexual characteristics.
Effects of alcohol on hormones
Consumption of excessive hormones can have a serious impact on the production of hormones. It can lead to an increase and decrease in some of the important hormones in the body and as a result, it can affect the functioning of systems.
- Consumption of alcohol also affects two hormones that control the functions of the reproductive system - luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone. These two hormones are produced by the anterior pituitary gland and play vital roles in the functioning of all the aspects of the reproductive system. Luteinizing hormone is further responsible for gonadal production of androgens. These are hormones that have a that have masculinizing effects, such as testosterone. On the other hand, follicle stimulating hormone is responsible for the normal development and maturation of sperm. Both luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone are important for sexual health.
- There is evidence that suggests that the consumption of excessive alcohol can alter the secretion of testosterone. It leads to a decrease in the level of testosterone in the body. Testosterone is an important male sex hormone which is important to have a normal function of all the components of the reproductive system. It is responsible for the development and maintenance of the masculine characteristics and it is secreted in large amount by testes. In fact, a lack of testosterone in the body is one of the common causes of male sexual dysfunctions. Lack of testosterone is accompanied by symptoms like reduced libido, problems with erections, problems with concentration, and changes with mood.
Multiple studies have stated that excessive consumption of alcohol not only affect the production of testosterone, but it also affects the growth of hormones. Primarily there are four mechanisms that lead to a decrease in the production of testosterone.
1. Decrease in the testicular nitric oxide
2. Increase in opioid beta-endorphin.
3. Oxidative damage
4. Damage to the cells
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Alcohol consumption and erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is one of the most common sexual dysfunctions in men and it has been believed that millions of men across the world are living with this sexual disorder. It is a serious sexual disorder which severely affects the quality of life of an individual.
Erectile dysfunction is defined as a condition in which a man fails to attain and maintain a firm erection that is sufficient enough to have satisfactory sexual intercourse. It is a serious sexual dysfunction. There are various factors that could be responsible for the development of erectile dysfunction, such as physical factors (diseases like diabetes mellitus and obesity), psychological factors (stress and depression), and certain lifestyle factors (consumption of alcohol and cigarette smoking).
Consumption of excessive alcohol is considered to be the common cause of erectile dysfunction. It has been witnessed that many men who suffer from erectile dysfunction are alcoholics. Although it is not necessary, most often, alcohol contributes to the development of erectile dysfunction. The most common mechanism is that alcohol reduces the production of testosterone and testosterone is important to attain erections. Erections are attained by the release of nitric oxide and an increased inflow of blood to the penile region. Testosterone plays an important role in the release of nitric oxide.
In alcoholics, sexual dysfunction can also be due to depressant effects of alcohol. The depressant effect of alcohol can impair the psychological health of an individual and psychological factors also contributes to the development of erectile dysfunction. It can affect the blood vessels and as a result, affect the flow of blood to the penile region.