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Does Alcohol Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

  • Friday 3 September 2021
  • 5 minute(s) read

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Symptoms of Erectile Dysfunction

Many people have a drink or two before a date or social occasion. A glass of wine or a few beers can take the edge off of your anxiety and help you relax. Alcohol can be used as a “social lubricant,” but it is important to drink sparingly, especially if you plan on having an intimate night.

If you indulge a bit too much, you may notice that your performance in the bedroom is lackluster. If ED symptoms continue without the presence of alcohol, you may be prescribed erectile dysfunction treatment. Symptoms of erectile dysfunction include:

  • Trouble getting an erection
  • Trouble keeping an erection
  • Reduced sexual desire

Read on to learn more about the potentially destructive relationship between alcohol and ED.

three people clinking alcoholic beverages together

What does Alcohol do to the Body?

Some people may feel ready to party after a few drinks, but the chemical compounds of alcohol function as a depressant in the body. As your blood alcohol increases, so do alcohol’s depressant effects.  

When you drink alcohol, it interferes with the nerve messengers in the brain that tell the penis to fill with blood. Alcohol can also reduce the production of testosterone, which affects the quality of erections. The body becomes dehydrated when drinking alcohol, decreasing blood volume and circulation. Dehydration causes the blood vessels to constrict, which is the opposite thing you want to happen when trying to achieve an erection. 1

Along with these physical symptoms, alcohol can also dampen your mood and decrease sexual desire. None of these symptoms increase your sex drive, so it is important to know the long- and short-term effects of excessive alcohol use on your sex life.

Temporary Erectile Dysfunction

If you have a big night out and cannot achieve an erection, this is typically a temporary situation. One study of 1,506 Chinese males found that those who drank more than three drinks a week were more likely to have some form of sexual dysfunction. 2four cocktails lined up next to each other

Another study found that sober men could achieve an erection more quickly than intoxicated men. 3 In some cases, men may be unable to achieve an erection at all after drinking. If you notice that you are experiencing this problem, you may want to limit your alcohol consumption and see if your symptoms improve. If they do not, you may want to contact your doctor to make sure there is not a more serious problem. In this case, erectile dysfunction pills may be the best option.

Long-Term Erectile Dysfunction

Chronic consumption of alcohol may make ED symptoms go from temporary to permanent. One study shows that men dependent on alcohol have a 60-70 percent chance of suffering sexual problems. These problems include ED, premature ejaculation, and a loss of sexual desire. 4

For some men, orgasm cannot be reached easily when under the influence of alcohol. Premature ejaculation may occur for other men, meaning that men reach orgasm earlier than you or your partner would have liked. This can take a severe toll on your relationships and self-esteem. If you think you are too dependent on alcohol, you may want to talk to your doctor about potential treatment methods for your ED and alcohol addiction.

Relationship Issues

Having ED can significantly affect the relationship between you and your partner. Many men do not want to discuss this common occurrence, even if millions of other men experience the same thing every year. At least 50 percent of the men experience some form of sexual dysfunction, which only goes up when alcohol is involved.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that alcohol use beyond moderation is associated with increased relationship conflicts, infidelity, economic insecurity, and divorce. It has also been found that 90 percent of all sexual assaults involve alcohol consumption. 5 Not every drink leads to domestic issues, but if drinking gets out of hand, there is an increased risk of relationship problems. Some men may also drink if they are unhappy with their ED symptoms and relationship, so this can be a difficult cycle to break. If you want to improve your relationship and find some helpful techniques for resolving your ED issues, you may want to seek the advice of a sex therapist or a talk therapist.

an older man smoking a cigar

Smoking, Alcohol, & ED

Smoking is a major risk factor for a multitude of chronic health conditions. If you are known to light up the occasional cigarette after having a drink or two, you may be at an increased risk of developing erectile dysfunction. For men over 40, smoking is the biggest cause of erectile dysfunction.

Men who smoke over ten cigarettes a day are at an increased risk for ED symptoms. The chemicals in cigarettes can damage the lining of the blood vessels and affect the way they function. If the blood vessels are damaged, the arteries will not expand and fill with blood during sexual arousal. The nerve signals may be in working order, but an erection might not be physically possible.  

Smoking and alcohol are two common vices, and together they do not create a successful sex life. If you tend to indulge in smoking and alcohol consumption, you may want to cut these habits out of your life. Speak to your doctor for more ways to prevent erectile dysfunction, or visit our blog to read more articles on ED today.

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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