Why Alcohol May Be Killing Your Sex Life

Guides ● January 2019

In 30 Seconds

  • Even light to moderate drinking can trigger erectile dysfunction (ED) symptoms, according to research from the International Journal of Impotence.
  • Studies of men who are heavy drinkers (more than 21 drinks per week) have found that between 58.4% and 72% of them experience ED symptoms.
  • Alcohol and alcohol abuse is one of the leading causes of ED.

You’d think a few pints or a little tipple would be good for your sex life, right? Any of us who have turned into a veritable Don Juan after a few drinks can attest to that. But extra confidence aside, could alcohol be ruining our sex lives?

The. Short. Answer. Is. Yes. The International Journal of Impotence Research reviewed over 24 studies on sexual dysfunction and alcohol. The result? They found that even light to moderate drinking (less than 21 drinks per week) can trigger erectile dysfunction (ED) symptoms.1

Having said that, the British Society for Sexual Medicine states that consuming less than 14 drinks per week does not appear to have any significant effect on sexual performance.2 So the jury may be out. But the real truth of the matter is that moderation – that most unsexy of words – is key.

Here’s why you should think twice before ordering another round:

Even light to moderate drinking can trigger ED symptoms, according to some research

Why Booze May Be Ruining Your Sex Life

  • Studies of men who are heavy drinkers (more than 21 drinks per week) have found that between 58.4%3 and 72%4 of them experience ED symptoms.
  • Regularly drinking more alcohol than the liver can break down (typically one or more standard-size drinks per hour) causes toxins to build up in the body. As expected, the amount of alcohol consumed is directly linked with sexual dysfunction.  Heavier drinking significantly increases the risk of sexual dysfunction. Greater alcohol consumption also increases the number of symptoms experienced.5
  • Alcohol and alcohol abuse is the leading cause of ED. According to a medical article published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry: “Episodic erectile failure in alcoholic men is fairly routine, found to be significantly higher in men consuming more than three standard units of alcohol daily”.6
  • Drinkers get less of the yes yes yesss. 11% of those of us who drink alcohol have problems reaching orgasm, according to research.7
  • Might be time to go cold turkey? Long-term alcohol use can also interfere with testicular function. Plus, it can cause irreversible damage to the nerves in the penis and alter male hormone production, which can result in ED – and also infertility.8
  • Studies have shown that ED affects alcohol abusers even when they’re sober.9 A sobering fact indeed.
  • Alcohol can also contribute to other sexual problems. Research has shown that 14.6% of men experienced a lack of pleasure at the time of ejaculation, 10.4% had delayed ejaculation and 27% experience dissatisfaction with frequency of sexual intercourse.10
  • It’s not only about ED. Drinking can lead to other serious health complications like high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems; cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon; learning and memory problems, including dementia; mental health problems, including depression and anxiety; and social problems, including lost productivity, family problems, and unemployment.11

The Science Part?

“Alcohol is a depressant and the body’s systems slow down considerably when drinking.  The slowing of these systems can severely inhibit sexual performance.” As Dr Chaudry explains, when your body consumes alcohol the central nervous system is affected; respiration, circulation and nerve ending sensitivity are all slowed down. “Alcohol causes dehydration, so blood and oxygen flow are also reduced.”

Dehydration increases the production of the hormone angiotensin and reduces levels of testosterone, both of which are associated with ED. “With the reduction of blood flow, nerve sensitivity, testosterone, and the increase of angiotensin, it can become difficult to achieve or sustain an erection,” Dr Chaudry explains.

“Alcohol is a depressant and the body’s systems slow down considerably when drinking. The slowing of these systems can severely inhibit sexual performance”

Dr Earim Chaudry
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