Reproduction And Pregnancy

Impotence, atrophy of the testes, infertility, and decreased libido are not uncommon complaints in male alcoholics. These observations are thought to be secondary to the direct effects of alcohol on testicular tissue, to an alcohol-associated decrease in sperm motility, and to an alcohol-related decrease in Vitamin A and zinc. Both Vitamin A and zinc are important in maintaining testicular tissue growth. In young females, alcohol abuse is associated with amenorrhea and anovulation; in chronic users, with early menopause. There is evidence that vaginal blood flow decreases as the alcohol serum level increases.

Despite these clinical observations, when rigorously investigated, there were no consistent changes in estradiol, progesterone, or testosterone. Consequently, it is difficult to determine whether these observations were due to alcohol-related liver disease, malnutrition, or the direct toxic effects of chronic alcohol use.

During PREGNANCY, alcoholism is associated with increased risk of spontaneous abortion and the development of FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME (FAS). FAS is comprised of a characteristic pattern of skin/facial abnormalities with growth and development impairments, which are believed to be related to alcohol's suppression of the sex hormone progesterone. While the features of FAS may vary, fetal abnormalities associated with alcohol can be divided into the following four categories: (1) growth deficiency; (2) central nervous system dysfunction; (3) head and facial abnormalities, and (4) other major and minor malformations.

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