Heavy drinking can cause severe sexual problems in men and women, resulting in impotence, infertility, and irreversible damage to reproductive organs, doctors say in a new report.
The report on alcohol misuse says that drinking more than ten drinks a day for men and half that amount for women can result in striking physical changes where men take on female characteristics and women become defeminized.
The report also warns drinkers of the risks of liver disease, strokes, high pressure, heart disease, and brain disease associated with excessive drinking.
One in five male hospital admissions and 25,000 premature deaths a year, between the ages of 36 and 65, are associated with alcohol abuse.
Alcohol Affects All Body Systems
“People tend to think of alcohol as only damaging the liver,” says Dr. Raymond, one of the authors of the report. “But In our report, we try to draw attention to the fact that there is not a single system of the body that is immune to the effects of alcohol.”
Alcohol abuse was much more common than generally believed, Dr. Raymond said. “It is not confined to the derelict on the park bench. It is a common disorder in our community.”
Two other reports on alcohol had been produced in the past year from the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Royal College of General Practitioners, Dr. Raymond said.
“We all feel that alcohol abuse has grown to such an extent that something must be done to stop the damage that is being caused by it.”
What Doctors Recommend
The report puts forward a number of recommendations for the public, doctors, and the Government. Men should drink less than 21 units a week and women less than 14 units a week, including two or three days without alcohol. One unit is equal to half a pint of beer, a single spirit measure, or a glass of wine.
The college estimates that one in six men and one in 10 women drink more than the weekly levels of 21 units and 14 units recommended in the report. About 11 percent of men and 6 percent of women drink more than 10 units a day.
The report calls on doctors to improve early detection of alcohol abuse by taking careful drinking histories of patients attending clinics. It also recommends the setting up of a single government body to coordinate all aspects of alcohol use and abuse.
Irreversible Damage Leads To Impotence
The report says that persistent heavy drinking in men can have a damaging effect on the body’s hormonal functions and result in shrinking genitalia, a drop in sperm formation, loss of body hair, and enlarged breasts.
Impotence will improve in 25-50 percent of male alcohol abusers if they subsequently stop drinking and studies have shown that normal sperm counts can be achieved within six to eight weeks, although no information is available for women.
However, a recent study shows that even moderate male drinkers risk infertility problems.
Of 67 men attending a male infertility clinic, 39 percent were found to have alcohol-related low sperm counts after other causes were eliminated.