The reproductive system is a system of organs coordinated by several different hormones. For a man or woman to be fertile, each of these organs and hormones must work together. Unfortunately, alcohol can disrupt the reproductive system by interfering at different points. One of the most common ways that alcohol leads to infertility is through the depletion of vitamins and minerals necessary for reproductive health. Alcohol reduces the body’s ability to absorb many of the components needed for reproductive function, sperm production, and hormone balance.
Secondly, large consumption of alcohol can impact the body’s balance of reproductive hormones by reducing liver function. In a healthy person, the hormone estrogen is broken down in the liver to maintain healthy levels. However, liver damage is a common effect of frequent alcohol ingestion and can therefore disrupt the breakdown of sex hormones. This leads to a buildup of estrogen in the body, creating an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone, a hormone that is a precursor to testosterone. In women, this dominance of estrogen interferes with the ovulation and menstruation process. In men, this concern not only affects the health of the reproductive organs, but can also alter sperm production or lead to enlargement of the breasts and prostate.
Alcohol also has direct effects on a man’s sperm cell number. Because alcohol decreases the production of testosterone, sperm production is decreased. High amounts of alcohol consumption can lead to an alteration in sperm shape, resulting in reduced motility of the sperm.
Depression and Alcohol-Induced Infertility
Infertility can have a strong influence on a person’s mental health, especially when it is associated with alcohol. The diagnosis of infertility is a common cause of grief and depression among many individuals. Unfortunately, infertility-related depression often lasts for a considerable amount of time. A person may become overwhelmed with depression when certain cues occur. These often relate to things like menstrual cycles or test outcomes. Depressive episodes may also occur at another person’s pregnancy announcement or baby shower. Though these are times that depression is worse, those who are infertile may also experience depression that remains constant across situations.
Guilt and blame are other emotions commonly experienced by those with alcohol-induced infertility. They may feel grief at the thought of compromising their own ability to produce offspring. In addition, the partner of a person with alcohol-induced infertility may place blame on that person. This can place great stress on relationships and can unfortunately result in separation. These emotions of guilt and blame are contributing factors to the depression experienced by those diagnosed with this condition.
The depression associated with alcohol-induced infertility can create a devastating cycle. Those who are depressed may feel more compelled to use alcohol, potentially worsening the problem. Fortunately, many individuals with alcohol-induced infertility respond well to mental health treatment for their depression. Individual therapy can help these people to understand the deeper emotions they associate with infertility and can help individuals eventually work through them.
Get Help for Alcohol Addiction
The abuse of alcohol can lead to many health consequences, including infertility and depression. If you or a loved one has become addicted to alcohol, it is important to seek appropriate treatment. Therefore, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about treatment for alcohol addiction.