Studies of Acute Alcohol Effects in Women and Animal Models

Alcohol Effects on Basal Hormone Levels Another approach to examination of alcohol’s toxic effects on reproductive function is to administer a single acute dose of alcohol to a normal healthy woman or experimental animal and measure the effects on pituitary and ovarian steroid hormones. Through a systematic manipulation of alcohol dose and changes in hormone levels, it should be possible to establish whether alcohol primarily disrupts hypothalamic, pituitary, or ovarian function. Surprisingly, studies of acute alcohol administration have shown that alcohol has minimal effects on basal hormone levels. Alcohol did not significantly suppress LH or estradiol in normal women or in female macaque monkeys. These data suggest that a single episode of intoxication is probably not sufficient to suppress normal basal hormone levels and that repeated episodes of intoxication are required to produce the hormonal correlates of amenorrhea, anovulation, and luteal phase dysfunction observed in clinical studies. One procedural difficulty affecting all investigations of acute alcohol effects on basal hormone levels is that studies have usually been conducted during the early follicular or luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, when basal Read more […]

Clinical Studies of Reproductive System Dysfunctions in Alcoholic Women

Alcoholic women may have several disorders of menstrual cycle function, including amenorrhea, luteal phase dysfunction, anovulation, and, in some instances, early menopause. Most available information about alcohol effects on reproductive function has been derived from clinical studies of alcoholic women during sobriety. Evidence of menstrual cycle dysfunctions is based on clinical history information and endocrine evaluations at the time of admission for treatment of alcohol-related medical problems. Disorders such as liver disease and pancreatitis, often complicated by malnutrition or other infectious disorders, are observed clinically. Since these medical disorders can also contribute to reproductive system dysfunctions, it is not possible to attribute abnormal menstrual cycles to alcohol alone. However, recent replications of these reproductive disorders in animal models under controlled conditions and in healthy social drinkers increase confidence in the validity of the clinical observations. Amenorrhea Amenorrhea refers to the complete cessation of menses. Amenorrhea has been consistently reported by alcoholic women, and this condition may persist for several months or for many years. Data from two clinical Read more […]