blog a delicate dance alcohol hormonesHave you been curling up by the fire with a glass of wine in the evening? Do you enjoy a cocktail with your friends on occasion? 

Many of us have come to rely on a drink to help us wind down or have fun with friends. And while there is nothing wrong with an occasional drink, it is important to understand the effects it has on the body, especially in regards to our hormones.


What Are Hormones?

Hormones are chemical messengers within the body that are secreted by glands in the endocrine system. These messengers tell the tissue and organs in the body what to do. The proper balance of hormones is crucial for both physical and mental health. 

When something happens to make one hormone increase the other hormones are affected. It's like a delicate dance with some hormones following another's lead.


What Impact Does Moderate Alcohol Consumption Have on Hormones?

Alcohol is thought to have a complicated relationship with the balance of hormones within the body. Let’s take a look at some of the ways moderate alcohol impacts this system.


  • Estrogen - Alcohol has been found to raise the level of estrogen in the body. There are a few ways that this may happen. To begin with alcohol contains phyto-estrogens, estrogenic compounds. Next it increases aromatase enzyme activity which converts testosterone into estrogen. And finally, alcohol impacts your liver, preventing it from detoxing estrogen and letting it build up in the system.

  • Cortisol - Even moderate alcohol can impact the quality of your sleep, resulting in increased stress hormones.

  • Thyroid Hormones - The rise in estrogen prevents the thyroid from releasing the normal amount of hormones. An increase in stress hormones will make your body less effective in converting T4 into T3. 

  • Testosterone - in men alcohol decreases testosterone levels by lowering the coenzyme NAD+ which is used in the production of testosterone.

  • Progesterone - As estrogen rises with alcohol consumption, progesterone decreases.

  • Insulin - Alcohol may increase insulin resistance and hinder the body’s ability to process sugar in some people.


Implications for Women 

When we understand the impact that alcohol has one our system, we can make a wise decision about how much and how often to drink. This will be a very personal decision based on your body and situation. For example, a woman who is already dealing with estrogen dominance may choose to be more cautious than someone who is not already struggling with this issue. 

Women are considered to be estrogen dominant when they do not have enough progesterone to balance the amount of estrogen in their body. Estrogen dominance is a huge part of many feminine problems including difficult periods, PMS, PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis, breast pain, headaches, depression, hair loss, and weight gain. 

Other women who may want to think carefully about their alcohol consumption are those who are dealing with issues of fertility. Since proper hormone balance is crucial for conception, women may wish to limit their alcohol consumption especially during the week leading up to ovulation. 


As always, please feel free to bring your questions to me. I’d love to support you in getting the information you need - whether it is a thought about the amount of alcohol you drink, or a concern about your hormones.

Dr. Jamie