Progesterone is a hormone most often associated with the female menstrual cycle and pregnancy, but men produce some progesterone, as well. Oral progesterone is most commonly used in hormone replacement therapy, but it may be prescribed for other conditions as well. Consuming alcohol, including beer, has an effect on your progesterone levels.
Doctors sometimes prescribe progesterone for post-menopausal women as a form of hormone replacement therapy to ease uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes and to prevent the development of certain diseases. Doctors may also prescribe progesterone to women of childbearing age whose periods have inexplicably stopped. In some cases, men might be prescribed small doses of progesterone to help prevent certain cancers, male-pattern balding or osteoporosis. You produce progesterone naturally -- with men producing about half as much as women.
Alcohol and Progesterone
The June 1999 issue of "Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research" published a study to determine the effects of alcohol on the hormone balance of women taking oral contraceptives. The Finnish researchers found that consuming alcohol decreased progesterone levels in women who were and were not using contraception. The 2000 issue of "Alcohol and Alcoholism" noted that even moderate alcohol consumption can decrease progesterone levels in pre-menopausal women.
Consuming large amounts of alcohol can cause disruptions in the menstrual cycle, fertility problems, anovulation, spontaneous abortion and increased incidences of breast cancer. Moderate alcohol consumption may delay the onset of menopause. In premenopausal women, alcohol consumption suppresses progesterone only at certain stages of the menstrual cycle; the impact on fertility is not fully understood.
No absolute definition of moderate drinking exists, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes it generally refers to a pattern of drinking that provides minimal health risks. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate drinking as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for me. One 12 ounce beer is equal to one drink. If you are on hormone replacement therapy or trying to conceive, talk to your doctor about beer and other alcohol consumption.