Erectile dysfunction and alcohol

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Erectile dysfunction can be reversed without medication

Friday, 28 March 2014

Men suffering from sexual dysfunction can be successful at reversing their problem, by focusing on lifestyle factors and not just relying on medication, according to new research at the University of Adelaide.

In a new paper published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers highlight the incidence of erectile dysfunction and lack of sexual desire among Australian men aged 35-80 years.

Over a five-year period, 31% of the 810 men involved in the study developed some form of erectile dysfunction.

“Sexual relations are not only an important part of people’s wellbeing. From a clinical point of view, the inability of some men to perform sexually can also be linked to a range of other health problems, many of which can be debilitating or potentially fatal,” says Professor Gary Wittert, Head of the Discipline of Medicine at the University of Adelaide and Director of the University’s Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health.

“Our study saw a large proportion of men suffering from some form of erectile dysfunction, which is a concern. The major risk factors for this are typically physical conditions rather than psychological ones, such as being overweight or obese, a higher level of alcohol intake, having sleeping difficulties or obstructive sleep apnoea, and age.

“The good news is, our study also found that a large proportion of men were naturally overcoming erectile dysfunction issues. The remission rate of those with erectile dysfunction was 29%, which is very high. This shows that many of these factors affecting men are modifiable, offering them an opportunity to do something about their condition,” Professor Wittert says.

The lead author of the paper, Dr Sean Martin from the University of Adelaide’s Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health, says: “Even when medication to help with erectile function is required, it is likely to be considerably more effective if lifestyle factors are also addressed.

“Erectile dysfunction can be a very serious issue because it’s a marker of underlying cardiovascular disease, and it often occurs before heart conditions become apparent. Therefore, men should consider improving their weight and overall nutrition, exercise more, drink less alcohol and have a better night’s sleep, as well as address risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol.

“This is not only likely to improve their sexual ability, but will be improve their cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of developing diabetes if they don’t already have it.”

These results are part of the Florey Adelaide Male Ageing Study at the University of Adelaide, which has been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Contact Details

Professor Gary Wittert
Email: [email protected]
Head of Discipline of Medicine, Medical Specialties
The University of Adelaide
Mobile: 0409 411 789
Dr Sean Martin
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/menshealth/
Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0351
Mobile: 0433 616 489
Media & Corporate Relations
Email: [email protected]
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814

I’ve never been a heavy drinker.

Even in what many people consider to be the prime drinking years of 19-25, I rarely got drunk.

From 19 onwards, I probably got drunk an average of five times per year, and more recently, I would maybe have an average of 3-5 drinks per month.

But something still didn’t sit right with me about drinking alcohol. It felt like one of those habits that felt out of integrity for me.

When I really sat with it and asked myself “Am I usually happy with the decisions that I’ve made while drinking, how I’ve acted, and how I’ve felt the next day?” … the answer to all three was always a simple, resounding, “No.”

And while I certainly don’t judge other people for their decision to partake in drinking, I’ve wanted to try out this experience for quite some time.

If you’ve been following my writing really closely for the past few years, you might remember that I did a pretty full-on experiment with my health (where I prioritized my sleep, boosted certain vitamin/mineral intake, increased fat consumption, and much more) to see if I could bio-hack my way to boosted testosterone levels, higher libido, and a better sex life. I wrote a post about it on my friend Ben Greenfield’s website that you can check out here.

Well, ever since that experiment, the final piece of the puzzle was to see if cutting out alcohol altogether would further improve my erectile strength, sex drive, and sexual pleasure.

What started as a simple 30 day experiment felt so amazing that I kept it going for six months.

Here’s what I’ve learned, and how my sex life has improved after six months with zero alcohol consumption.

1. Increased personal integrity, and more wins throughout my entire life

This point might be the most highly personalized because it’s about my values and personal decisions… but in taking on the initial 30 day challenge of no drinking, I felt a boost in my mental strength and personal integrity.

This one decision set off a cascade effect that touched multiple other areas of my life.

Cutting out alcohol from my life meant that it was that much easier to cut out toxic friends that no longer served me… or to commit to taking certain actions in my business that I had been wanting to do for a while.

I don’t think that it was a coincidence that these past six months have been (by far) the biggest growth curve of my business’s existence. I became a #1 best-seller on Amazon for the fifth time in a row, and I had record months of bringing on new coaching clients. All in all, I felt like a bad ass, productive superhero.

Also, as I’ve written about in the past in this article (and I don’t know if this is true for women as well but I believe the study has only been done with men so far), when we have big wins in our career/business life we get a huge surge of testosterone. It’s almost like an unconscious trigger that tells us “You are a successful person with access to resources… you should go make babies now.” AKA the added wins that were happening in my business life (and overall health and wellness, which I’ll get to shortly) gave me a huge surge of libido. And more energy for sex is always a fun thing.

2. Nutrient absorption and greater mental clarity

While a limited amount of red wine has been proven to have some health benefits, booze is essentially empty calories (aka you get no nutrients out of it for the calories consumed).

But, in my research, I found out that alcohol not only doesn’t provide any vitamins or minerals but it actually inhibits the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. When you give up drinking (especially if you were a moderate to heavy drinker before), your body can finally properly absorb vitamin c, folic acid, vitamin b12, zinc, and thiamin.

I love the mindset of “how you do anything is how you do everything.” It takes the idea of personal responsibility (<— which I adore) to the next level.

A good sex life and healthy libido is intimately connected to your body functioning well (which ultimately stems from you treating your body well). This stuff isn’t news. Eat clean, get all of your vitamins and minerals from a balanced, whole food diet, drink lots of water, prioritize your sleep, and limit or eliminate any numbing habits from your life, such as drinking, smoking, doing drugs, or eating a high volume of overly processed foods that were created in a lab.

You almost can’t believe how much of a fog your body and mind were in before you make the shift. But when you really start to prioritize your health, which for me meant no drinking, you feel that much better across the board.

As a professional sex and relationship coach and writer, I just happen to specialize in caring more about how my mind, my sex life, and my overall libido are affected.

3. Fat loss

Fact: alcohol depresses your metabolism and muscle recovery times. What does that mean in real terms? It means it’s easier for your body to store fat when you drink alcohol.

I am not a health and fat loss expert, nor do I care to be. What I do care about is the fact that if there’s extra fat hanging off of my torso, it affects my erectile strength and sex drive. Those things, I’m not a fan of.

I found that (especially after the first 30 days of no drinking) I had a bit more leniency in what foods I could consume, and the fat just wouldn’t store on my body.

There were meals that I had during the last six months that, when I would have once combined them with a heavy night of drinking, didn’t affect me nearly as much as they once had.

Bottom line: I slept better, fat didn’t store on my body nearly as much, and I found it easier to achieve and maintain erections since my blood wasn’t trying to fight the fat out of my arteries on it’s way to filling up my penis (too graphic for you? Oh well. And hi mom!).

4. Higher sex drive

From the wins in my work life, higher quality of sleep (which is the only time that testosterone – your sex drive hormone – is produced), and feeling more physically toned and attractive from my higher efficiency workouts, my sex drive had a huge boost shortly into my first thirty days of the experiment.

5. More emotional depth in my relationship

Finally, and probably my favourite point from this list, I experienced greater depth in my relationships (intimate, familial, personal… all of them).

The stereotype of alcohol being the thing that brings people closer together (insert mental image of a sloppy drunk guy leaning on his friend and yelling “I love you man!” at the bar) is only a half-truth. Sure, it can make you more uninhibited and allow you to say certain things that you might not say otherwise. But alcohol’s temporary, faux-benefits are outweighed a hundred to one by the benefits of giving up alcohol.

Because I was facing myself, my own emotions, and my life goals with a new level of clarity, it was that much easier to see and appreciate the people around me with the same kind of clarity and authenticity.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. And while it might inhibit your resistance to telling your friends/significant other that you love them, it also inhibits your libido for life. It is a numbing agent, pure and simple.

After giving up alcohol, I felt re-sensitized to my life and I felt everything (sexually and emotionally) that much more deeply.

Giving up alcohol isn’t for everyone. Nor am I saying it should be.

I’ve really enjoyed these last six months, and I can imagine giving up alcohol indefinitely. I have no desire to go back to drinking just like I have no desire to go back to toxic friendships that no longer serve me.

For me, the choice to give up alcohol has been an easy one. I’ve experienced overlapping benefits in my health, happiness, relationships, and sex life.

Do you love booze too much to ever give it up? No worries. Check out tip #1 from my article 5 Dates That Will Reconnect You As A Couple.

And if you enjoyed this post, you’ll likely also love reading:

– Kill Stress, Boost Testosterone, And Have Better Sex

– How To Cultivate Light And Dark Sexual Energy

– 3 Insanely Powerful Sex Exercises For Men

– How To Increase Sexual Desire For Your Partner

Dedicated to your success,

Jordan

Can drinking alcohol cause erectile dysfunction?

Surprisingly, one of the main causes of erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence may be in that icy mug of beer you are enjoying right now! A common cause of difficulty with erection is overuse of alcohol. Small amounts of alcohol can help us relax and help remove inhibitions, which can help the sexual mood and actually increase sexual activity. Nevertheless, as the amount of alcohol in the blood increases, the alcohol only serves to depress the brain’s ability to sense sexual stimulation.

Higher levels of alcohol depress other actions of the brain including coordination and judgment. As the brain becomes more depressed at higher alcohol levels, more physical and mental activities slow or stop, leading to loss of the ability to have erections.

One or two drinks daily may be safe for most people. However, everyone is different. This is why knowing your body is important, including when to stop drinking before sexual activity. Some experts recommend using alcohol after sexual activity rather than before if you happen to be sensitive to its effect.

With longer and steady use of alcohol, there can be damage to nerves that supply the penis and control erection as well as the development of liver disease and other chronic diseases that make sexual activity and erection more difficult.

Why Boozing Can Be Bad for Your Sex Life

Drink a little alcohol; kiss your bedroom jitters goodbye: Anyone who’s transformed into Don Juan after a couple of cocktails knows that. But beyond that newfound confidence, is alcohol good for your sex life?

Actually, the effect can be the opposite as your blood alcohol level increases. Alcohol is a depressant, and using it heavily can dampen mood, decrease sexual desire, and make it difficult for a man to achieve erections or reach an orgasm while under the influence. In fact, overdoing it on booze is a common cause of erectile dysfunction.

That doesn’t mean you need to cut back completely — most experts say moderation is key. But what’s “moderation” exactly? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), moderate drinking is no more than two drinks a day for men (and one drink a day for women). The liver can only break down the amount of alcohol in about one standard-size drink an hour, so regularly drinking more than that means that toxins from alcohol can build up in your body and affect your organs, including those involved in sex.

Here’s why you should think twice about tossing back too many.

5 Ways Alcohol Can Wreck Your Sex Life

For men, heavy drinking can lead to:

Temporary erectile dysfunction. Researchers have found that too much alcohol affects both your brain and your penis. In one University of Washington study, sober men were able to achieve an erection more quickly than intoxicated men — and some men are unable to have an erection at all after drinking.

That’s because pre-sex boozing decreases blood flow to your penis, reduces the intensity of your orgasm, and can dampen your level of excitement (in other words, even if you are able to have sex, it may not be nearly as pleasurable as it would be without the excess alcohol).

Long-term erectile dysfunction. The risk for long-term erectile dysfunction has been linked to chronic heavy use of alcohol. In fact, studies show that men who are dependent on alcohol have a 60 to 70 percent chance of suffering from sexual problems. The most common of these are erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and loss of sexual desire.

Ruined relationships. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol use beyond moderation is associated with relationship problems that include conflict, infidelity, economic insecurity, and divorce. In addition, 90 percent of all sexual assaults involve alcohol consumption.

The sexual repercussions of smoking. If you are someone who tends to light up while drinking, you could be further increasing your risk for ED. For men under the age of 40, smoking is the biggest cause of erectile dysfunction — and studies show that men who smoke more than 10 cigarettes daily are at an increased risk for erectile dysfunction.

STDs. Another big risk when combining sex and alcohol? Getting exposed to a sexually transmitted disease. Studies show that almost 50 percent of unplanned sexual encounters involve alcohol, and 60 percent of STDs are transmitted when alcohol is involved. Young adults who use alcohol are seven times more likely to have unprotected sex.

Why Less Is More

The relaxing effect of alcohol and the feeling of well-being that comes with a drink or two have made alcohol humans’ favorite beverage for about 10,000 years. Though some studies confirm that alcohol (in moderation!) is good for your heart and circulation (which can work against erectile dysfunction), it’s important to remember that sex and alcohol are a delicate balancing act.

If you’ve experienced a lack of sexual desire, premature ejaculation, relationship problems, or erectile dysfunction because of mixing alcohol and sex, you may be letting alcohol get the best of your sex life.

What Can You Do to Reverse Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Research suggests that lifestyle improvements can improve your erectile function. In a study of Australian men age 35 to 80, nearly a third reported erectile problems over a five-year period. These problems spontaneously improved in 29 percent of the men, suggesting that factors that can be controlled, like lifestyle, were behind the ED reversal.

Enhance heart health

Poor cardiovascular health reduces your body’s ability to deliver blood needed to produce erections. In a study published in 2004, researchers followed male participants for 25 years. The researchers found that heart disease risk factors predicted which men were most at risk of future ED. Numerous studies have strongly tied four major cardiovascular risk factors to ED:

  • Smoking. Not smoking, or quitting if you do smoke, prevents ED.
  • Alcohol. Reduce alcohol consumption. Heavy drinkers experience ED more often.
  • Weight. One study found that in overweight men with ED, losing weight helped to improve erectile function in about a third of the study participants.
  • Exercise. Studies show that physical activity, especially when combined with a healthy diet, can improve erectile function.

Avoiding these risk factors may help improve erectile function and reverse ED.

Boost testosterone

Taking steps to counteract low levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone, can improve erectile health. To naturally increase testosterone levels:

  • lose weight
  • reduce stress
  • exercise

These tips can also improve heart health, which may further reduce your ED symptoms. Here are more evidence-based ways to naturally increase your testosterone levels.

Get to sleep

Lack of restful sleep substantially impacts your sexual performance. Studies show that men with interrupted breathing at night, or sleep apnea, improved their erectile function after using a CPAP breathing machine at night.

Replace your bike seat

Some studies have linked bicycling to ED, though more research is needed to confirm the connection. Bicycle seats put pressure on nerves and blood vessels in the pelvic region. If you’re a frequent or long-distance cyclist, consider buying a seat specially designed to reduce pressure on your perineum. Learn more about the effects of cycling on erectile function.

Increase sexual frequency

Frequent or regular sex can help you improve overall performance. One study found that men who had intercourse less than once a week were twice as likely to develop ED at least once a week.

Impotence causes

Impotence, also known as erectile dysfunction or ED, is a condition in which a man is unable to get or hold an erection long enough to have a satisfactory sex life. Impotence is a common problem, affecting up to half of Australian men between the ages of 40 and 70 years. The risk of developing erectile dysfunction increases as you get older.

In the past, doctors considered impotence to be a mainly psychological problem, caused by performance anxiety or stress. Now, doctors know that many cases of impotence have a physical cause, which usually can be treated. Often, a combination of physical and psychological factors contributes to erectile dysfunction.

Physical causes of impotence

Physical causes of impotence can include:

  • problems with blood to flow into and out of the penis;
  • damage to the nerves that send signals from the body’s central nervous system to the penis; and, more rarely,
  • a deficiency in testosterone or other hormones.

Some medicines can contribute to impotence, as can some types of surgery and radiotherapy treatments.

Blocked blood vessels to the penis

A very common cause of impotence is when blood flow into the penis is reduced. This can be due to atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries. In atherosclerosis, the arteries are clogged and narrowed, resulting in reduced blood flow.

Risk factors for atherosclerosis include:

  • high cholesterol;
  • high blood pressure;
  • obesity;
  • sleep apnoea;
  • diabetes; and
  • smoking.

If your erection problems are caused by atherosclerosis, there is a chance that the arteries in other parts of your body (e.g. the coronary arteries that supply your heart) are also affected by atherosclerosis. In fact, erection problems may be the first sign that you are at risk of coronary heart disease.

Because the arteries to the penis are narrower than those to the heart, you may develop symptoms of erectile dysfunction before you experience any symptoms of heart disease, such as angina. So seeing your doctor about erection problems may be important for your overall physical health.

Impotence can also be caused by a blood clot that prevents enough blood from flowing into the penis to cause an erection.

Venous leakage

In some men, blood can flow in to the penis easily, but the problem is that it leaks out again, so an erection cannot be sustained. This is called venous leakage. Doctors aren’t certain of the cause of venous leakage, but they can perform surgery to help repair it.

Medicines that can cause impotence

Many medicines can cause erection problems as a side effect, including:

  • diuretics (sometimes known as ‘water tablets’ – often used for high blood pressure);
  • high blood pressure medications;
  • cholesterol-lowering medicines (including statins);
  • some types of antipsychotics;
  • antidepressants;
  • cancer treatments;
  • some medicines used to treat heartburn and stomach ulcers;
  • antihistamines;
  • some pain medicines; and
  • certain epilepsy medications.

If you experience impotence after starting a new medication, tell your doctor, who may be able to prescribe a different medicine for you. Don’t stop taking a medicine without first consulting your doctor. You should also tell your doctor about any over-the-counter medicines or complementary remedies you may be taking.

The following table contains a list of specific medicines that may cause or contribute to erectile dysfunction. This list may not cover all types of medicines that can cause erectile dysfunction, so always ask your doctor if you are in doubt. Also, for some of these medicines ED is a very rare side effect. Most men taking these medicines do not experience erectile dysfunction.

*The names in brackets are just some examples of the trade names each specific medicine is marketed under in Australia. The medicine may also be known by other trade names.

Diabetes and erectile dysfunction

Men who have diabetes have a higher risk of developing impotence than other men. Diabetes contributes to impotence because it can damage blood vessels and cause a type of nerve damage known as peripheral neuropathy.

Hormones and impotence

Low levels of the male hormone, testosterone, are more commonly linked to a lowered sex drive, rather than impotence itself. Only a small percentage of cases of impotence are caused by hormone deficiency.

Low testosterone levels may be the result of a condition called hypogonadism, in which the testicles don’t produce enough testosterone. More rarely, low testosterone can be caused by the pituitary (a small gland at the base of the brain) not secreting sufficient hormones to stimulate the testes to produce testosterone. The pituitary is also sometimes affected by small benign (non-cancerous) tumours that secrete prolactin, another hormone that can cause impotence.

Mildly decreased levels of testosterone are often not due to specific testicular or pituitary problems, but rather stress or depression. In this situation, testosterone replacement is rarely of any benefit.

Other hormone problems, including thyroid disease, can also cause impotence.

Prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction

The advanced stages of prostate cancer can affect the nerves and arteries that are vital for an erection.

Radiation treatment for prostate cancer can harm the erectile tissues of the penis, and prostate cancer surgery can cause nerve or artery damage to the penis.

Treatment for advanced prostate cancer often includes medicines that counteract testosterone, and commonly cause erectile dysfunction as well as loss of sexual interest.

Peyronie’s disease

Peyronie’s disease is an uncommon condition that affects a man’s sex life because his penis curves abnormally and causes pain when he has an erection. He might also be unable to have a hard erection. The curvature of the penis is caused by a scar, called a plaque, that forms in the penis.

Other physical causes of impotence

Several other factors and conditions can contribute to erectile dysfunction, including the following.

  • Depression. Many men find that when they’re suffering from depression, they lose interest in sex and can’t get or keep an erection. Asking your doctor for treatments for depression may help alleviate your erection problems as well.
  • Smoking contributes to vascular disease (disease of the blood vessels), so it can contribute to erectile dysfunction by affecting blood flow to the penis. Giving up smoking often has a beneficial effect on erectile function.
  • Excessive alcohol use. Alcoholism can cause permanent nerve damage, resulting in impotence. This nerve damage is called peripheral neuropathy. Long-term alcohol use can impair the liver’s ability to function, resulting in a hormone imbalance in which a man has too much of the female sex hormone, oestrogen. On a day-to-day level, alcohol dulls the central nervous system, adversely affecting sexual response.
  • Illicit drug use. Illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, barbiturates, and amphetamines act on the central nervous system, impairing the body’s ability to respond sexually.
  • Certain exercises. Nerve and artery damage can be caused by prolonged cycling, rodeo riding, or use of a rowing machine, resulting in the inability to get an erection. Often, minimising the use of hard bicycle seats and exercise machine seats, as well as correct positioning of the seat, will help restore sexual function.
  • Surgery to organs near the nerve pathways of the penis, such as the bladder, rectum and prostate, can cause nerve or artery damage to the penis, resulting in the inability to have an erection.
  • Injuries. Impotence can be caused by spinal cord injury; injury to your sex organs; or a pelvic fracture, which can cause damage to the nerves of the penis, or damage the blood vessels, resulting in reduced blood flow to the penis.
  • Conditions affecting the nervous system. Multiple sclerosis (MS) and other degenerative diseases of the nervous system, such as Parkinson’s disease, can damage the nerves involved in erections.

Psychological causes of impotence

Most cases of impotence have physical causes, but, in some men, psychological factors are the main contributors to impotence.

Impotence that’s triggered by psychological factors is more common in men who are sexually inexperienced. Psychological erectile dysfunction may only occur when you’re with just one particular person. You’re also more likely to have morning erections, and be able to have an erection when you masturbate, than men whose impotence has a physical cause.

Here are some psychological factors that can have an impact on your erections.

Stress and anxiety

When you’re stressed and focusing on other issues apart from sex, you might find that you don’t want to have sex as often and there might be a drop in your ability to perform when you do try. You might find that tackling the source of your stress can have benefits in the bedroom as well.

Fear of failure

Anxiety about your sexual prowess (commonly called performance anxiety) can, in itself, contribute to failure. By putting pressure on yourself, you become too anxious to get an adequate erection.

Most men experience isolated episodes of erectile failure. Even when the transient physical cause has passed, anxiety that it may recur is sufficient to prevent erection. Anxiety, whether about something specifically sexual or part of a wider anxiety syndrome, is never helpful to good sexual function.

Problems with your relationship and impotence

Impotence may be a manifestation of a poor relationship, or a problematic time in a relationship. Sexual boredom, tension or anger among partners, and lack of intimacy and communication are all possible triggers of erectile dysfunction. In these cases, seeing a counsellor may help.

It’s worth remembering that impotence is a complex medical condition, which may have more than one cause. For example, if impotence is the result of a side effect of medicine or an underlying disease, the anxiety caused by lack of performance may perpetuate the erectile dysfunction even after the physical cause has been dealt with.

Almost any chronic (ongoing) physical or mental health disorder, including those with no direct effect on penile nerves or blood supply, can have a powerful effect on sexuality, sexual self-image and erectile function.

If you’re worried about your sexual response or the quality of your erections, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor, who has access to treatments that can help.

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Last Reviewed: 16/12/2016

myDr

A handful of studies26, 27, 28 have documented the harmful effects of chronic alcohol consumption on sexual functioning but hardly any study found potential beneficial effects of alcohol on ED. We have demonstrated through meta-analysis the possible beneficial effects of alcohol on ED.

The relationship between alcohol and ED was complex from the data: consuming 1–7 drinks/week appeared to confer the lowest risk (OR=0.73; P=0.101) but it was not statistically significant, and only 8 or more drinks/week was significant (OR=0.85; P=0.007). It appears that alcohol consumption, much similar to its relationship with cardiac survival, is related to sexual function in a J-shaped manner, with moderate consumption conferring highest protection and higher consumption conferring less benefits.

Considering that ED and heart diseases share similar cardiovascular risk factors, and the well-known chronic cytotoxic effects of alcohol on general health,29 hepatic function30 and immune function,31 general health might be a mediator between the association of high alcohol consumption and ED. This J-shaped relationship finding might explain why studies have shown harmful effects of heavy alcoholism on sexual function, that is alcoholism entails excessive drinking and carries the increased risk of ED at the tail of the J curve. However, caution has to be exercised in the extrapolation, as our results did not show a statistically significant OR for consuming 1–7 drinks/week, and did not demonstrate any harmful effects of alcohol on sexual function. In fact, three large studies9, 16, 18 have demonstrated progressively smaller ORs of ED for increasing levels of alcohol consumption.

We attempted to identify the cutoff level of alcohol consumption where risks outweigh benefits, by identifying the ‘number of drinks/week’ that has an OR closest to 1. To our surprise, the category ‘8 or more drinks/week’ generated an OR that barely missed the unity and was statistically significant. Although we were unable to pinpoint the level of alcohol consumption where risks (OR>1) outweigh benefits (OR<1), we were at least able to say that ‘8 or more drinks/week’ is likely to be a cutoff where the OR for ED becomes less than 1. Whether consuming more or less alcohol would yield a smaller OR was indeterminate.

The results from the two cohort studies complicated the picture even further: they did not show any significant effects of alcohol consumption on ED. The cross-sectional analysis of the HPFS data demonstrated a protective association of alcohol on ED, much in a J-shaped manner, but after follow-up of the subjects the cohort analysis did not find any significant associations between alcohol consumption and ED. Since the level of evidence from a cohort study is generally higher than from a cross-sectional study, due to less confounding and recall bias, the evidence from the HPFS cohort should weigh more heavily in our analysis. This suggests that the apparent protective association of alcohol consumption on ED was probably due to confounding (since recall, selection, observer and volunteer biases were less likely in the selected population-based cross-sectional studies). However, the sensitivity analysis demonstrated a significant protective association of alcohol consumption with higher level of statistical adjustments (less confounding), not with age adjustment alone (more confounding), and suggests that with better statistical adjustments (reduction of confounding) the demonstration of protective association might be possible. The sensitivity analysis on study sample size found that smaller studies demonstrated larger effects than larger studies, and might suggest that the estimate obtained from larger studies would be more reliable (effect towards null), although their estimates did not differ significantly. The relative importance of each study with regard to their sample sizes was taken care of by the differential weighting of the random effects model.

A major limitation of previous population-based studies was their relatively small sample sizes, and we sought to overcome this sample size problem by pooling data across studies, although we suspected that the OR for ‘1–7 drinks/week’ was not statistically significant due to inadequate sample size.

Limitation 1

Confounding can reduce the internal validity of a study, and since ED is a multifactorial disorder, the association between alcohol and ED as demonstrated could be confounded by some other factors not adjusted for. First, the effect size for alcohol consumption was not large, and the significant effect could be due to residual confounding. Second, we obtained pooled estimates based on ORs that were adjusted for different numbers of variables from different studies, and therefore each included study had a different level of confounding. Our minimum requirement for inclusion was that the ORs had to be age-adjusted, other than this if more variables were adjusted for the better. However referring to Figure 1, if confounding was a problem, one would find ORs that were adjusted for more variables to lie closer to unity (that is, no effect) and those that were only age-adjusted to be closer to zero (that is, protective association), but this did not appear to be the case.

Limitation 2

Alcohol consumption was assessed in many ways, one by grams of alcohol, and most by the number of drinks/week, but the categories were different. We took a conservative approach in pooling the data, for example, if the categories in Millett et al.’s17 study were none/1–4/⩾4 drinks/week, we excluded the OR for the ‘open-ended’ ⩾4 drinks/week and only included the OR for 1–4 drinks/week into our final 1–7 drinks/week category, and likewise we only included the OR for 3–4 drinks/week from Cho et al.’s21 study in the 1–7 drinks/week category. We believe that this conservative approach in pooling the results should ensure the reliability of our results.

The included studies used two broad definitions of ED, one that was based on IIEF-5 or IIEF-15, and the other that was based on a single self-reporting question. Sensitivity analysis showed that the summary estimates based on each definition were different, and only the self-reported one was significant (OR=0.73; 99% CI, 0.61–0.88; P<0.001) but not the IIEF one (OR=0.95; 99% CI, 0.65–1.40; P=0.739), and the latter was not statistically significant. This finding raises serious doubts to the use of single question self-reported composite measures of ED, which many studies worldwide used, since it appears that the summary estimate for each definition was different. However, since the estimates did not differ significantly (P=0.1057), this difference could be due to chance.

Limitation 3

Causal inference from the cross-sectional design is weak. The alternatives for better causal inference are either a cohort study or a randomized controlled trial, but in either case few studies have been done. We sought to support our meta-analysis results with the research findings from cohort studies (MMAS and HPFS), but the cohorts did not demonstrate any significant relationships between alcohol consumption and risk of ED. The cross-sectional HPFS supported our meta-analysis results of the cross-sectional studies in demonstrating a significant protective association, but the cohort HPFS did not, and this suggests that the protective association demonstrated in cross-sectional studies might have resulted from confounding. Another possible explanation was that men who developed ED opted not to drink alcohol, whereas men without ED continued to drink alcohol. As a result, an apparent ‘harmful effect’ of not drinking alcohol was found, which was the inverse of protective association of drinking alcohol in terms of ORs. Since the cohort study design has better causal inference, the results from the two cohort studies suggest that alcohol neither causes nor prevents ED from developing. Also, the statistical association was found after pooling a large number of studies, and may have limited biological significance for an individual drinker.

Limitation 4

We found significant heterogeneity in two of the three meta-analysis estimates. In general, there can be many sources of heterogeneity in meta-analysis, and we can only surmise the sources in this study, which may include varying number of controlled confounders, different definitions of ED and alcohol consumption and the diverse populations included. We used the random effects model that is preferred to the fixed effects model when significant heterogeneity exists.

Two reasons might have propagated the myth that alcohol consumption is a risk factor for ED. First, that alcohol consumption enhanced sexual desire but impaired sexual performance is perhaps a short-lived effect of alcohol and will not cause ED permanently. Second, that severe alcoholism impairs sexual functions may be an extreme example and is confounded by underlying deterioration of general health, and unless it is excessive it is unlikely to cause ED permanently. More research has to be done to assess the association between acute (we did not investigate) and chronic (which we investigated) alcohol consumption and development of ED, particularly using large-scale cohorts since randomized controlled trials may be unethical.

This is the first study that systematically reviewed and meta-analyzed the association between alcohol consumption and ED. Our meta-analysis found a significant protective association of regular (chronic) alcohol consumption on ED in cross-sectional studies, in particular for the consumption of 8 or more drinks/week. Evidence from large cohort studies suggests that regular alcohol consumption is not significantly associated with ED development. Therefore this study has demonstrated, in the least, that chronic alcohol consumption is not a risk factor for ED. We hope to demonstrate with the results of this study that the association between alcohol consumption and development of ED might not be as straightforward as it seemed, and the undue popularity of alcohol being labeled as a risk factor for ED was probably unjustified since there was little research evidence to support it.

You start to sip a beer, one beer becomes two, and before you know it you’ve spiraled into taking shots of your favorite whiskey. Some time later you’re sloppily making out with a stranger, taking each other’s clothes off, and when it comes time for sex, you just can’t get it up. Yep, it’s “whiskey d—” …and it’s not just in your mind.

Alcohol and Sex Don’t Mix

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol is not an aphrodisiac and can actually inhibit your ability to attain an erection and orgasm. While it enables people to overcome their sexual inhibitions or anxieties, excessive alcohol also has a negative physiological effect on the penis.

Excessive drinking is a common cause of erectile dysfunction, according to the Mayo Clinic. As the amount of alcohol in the blood increases, the alcohol decreases the brain’s ability to sense sexual stimulation. As a depressant, alcohol directly affects the penis by interfering with parts of the nervous system that are essential for sexual arousal and orgasm, including respiration, circulation, and sensitivity of nerve endings, according to Health Promotion at Brown University.

In regard to circulation, alcohol causes the blood vessels to dilate, which influences the way the blood moves in and out of the penis. A good blood flow regulates the relaxation and contraction of the penis, so it can get and maintain an erection. Without it, no matter how much you may want it to happen differently, your penis will simply remain flaccid.

A 2009 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found less volume of liquid in the body in conjunction with a depressed nervous system, led to a struggle with sexual performance. This is because alcohol can dehydrate the body, decreasing blood volume while increasing the hormone associated with erectile dysfunction — angiotensin. The body is able to work at optimal capacity by staying hydrated, since major biological activities and functions utilize water molecules.

To avoid the dreaded whiskey d—, you don’t necessarily have to stop drinking alcohol. Just drink in moderation. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines moderate drinking as no more than two drinks a day for men, and one drink a day for women. The liver can only process 1 ounce of liquor or one standard drink in one hour. Consuming more than this will lead the system to become saturated, where extra alcohol will increase in the blood and body tissues, until the liver is ready to metabolize it again. Until then, high blood alcohol concentration will last for several hours and affect you physiologically.

Drinking in moderation can be beneficial to your heart health, and therefore your sex life. A 2004 study published in the journal Seminars in Vascular Medicine found moderate alcohol consumption was associated with decreased cardiovascular mortality due to the antioxidant capacities of alcoholic beverages. The polyphenolic compounds — a group of compounds that include tannins and anthocyanins — were shown to change the lipid profiles, decrease coagulation, increase fibrinolysis, inhibition of platelets, and increase nitric oxide. This is vital since vascular diseases (those that affect the blood vessels) commonly cause erectile dysfunction.

Whiskey Penis: Fact Or Urban Legend?

So, does “whiskey d—” really exist in retrospect? Yes.

Drinking copious amounts of alcohol will affect your sex life, but this isn’t just limited to whiskey. One type of alcohol is not different from another when it comes to its influence on sexual performance. The blood alcohol level, what you’ve eaten, and your weight are what determine the effect alcohol has on your body.

If you do drink before having sex, exchange a second or third alcoholic drink for a glass of water, says Health Promotion, to combat the effects of dehydration. And, if you feel like you’ve had too much to drink, maybe you should go home solo.

Sources: Thorton SN. Hydration Increases Tissue Perfusion and Thus Erectile Function. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2009.

de Lange DW and van de Wiel A.Drink to prevent: review on the cardioprotective mechanisms of alcohol and red wine polyphenols. Seminars in Vascular Medicine. 2004.

Pros and Cons of drinking before sex

Alcohol is not always a bad thing when it comes to sex. Drinking alcohol in moderation can help men relax, removing inhibitions and increasing sexual confidence and performance. Everyone is different, so it’s important to know your body and your limits with alcohol consumption, especially if you’re hoping to engage in sexual activity.

Binge drinking for women is defined to be around four drinks in two hours, and the sexual side effects it causes can be equal to that of men. Women obviously don’t have the same anatomy as men and therefore, cannot experience erectile dysfunction in the same way. However, they may find it difficult to reach orgasm while intoxicated. They may also see their orgasms decrease in intensity after heavy drinking.

Alcohol’s long-term effect on Erectile Dysfunction

When it comes to binge drinking and ED, there’s more at stake than being embarrassed and disappointed that you couldn’t perform while you were under the influence. Years of binge drinking can change a stand-alone case of whiskey dick to a frequent occurrence. Your erections can be permanently affected, as frequent binge drinking can alter hormonal balances, lower sexual desire, and cause premature ejaculation. Alcohol can also lower testosterone levels, contributing to a decreased libido.

Treating whiskey dick (Erectile Dysfunction) with Giddy

Whiskey dick and other forms of ED are very common. 1 in 4 men experience ED before they’re 40, and many of those cases are due to excessive alcohol consumption. But whiskey dick doesn’t have to be the end of your drinking days or your sex life. Fortunately, there’s an all-natural treatment available. Giddy is a wearable ED device that places pressure on the veins in the penis, allowing for optimal blood flow without restricting the wrong areas. This means a man can achieve and maintain an erection and enjoy normal ejaculation, even with alcohol in their system.

Giddy was designed to be an effective treatment for ED, including whiskey dick, without the side effects of pills, pumps, or traditional constriction devices. Having a Giddy in your pocket means having the confidence to buy another round and still enjoy healthy, rewarding sex afterwards. Curious? Get Giddy.

Is Alcohol Wreaking Havoc on Your Sexual Performance?

Authored By American Addiction Centers Editorial Staff Posted to: Addiction Research, Alcoholism, Understanding Addiction

Alcohol is often viewed as an aphrodisiac, but this label is far from the truth. While drinking may lower social inhibitions and increase the likelihood of poor impulse control, alcohol actually reduces sexual performance.

Believe it or not, a great number of studies have conclusively shown prolonged abuse of alcohol results in sexual dysfunction. In fact, the leading cause of impotence is alcohol abuse.

Alcohol at Work Inside the Body

Alcohol is a depressant; as you drink, your body systems slow down considerably. Ultimately, these depressant effects inhibit sexual performance.

Here’s a look at what alcohol does to body systems when consumed:

  • Nervous system depressant: Respiration, circulation, and nerve ending sensitivity are all suppressed.
  • Dehydration: Alcohol dehydrates, taking away the blood and oxygen flow needed to bring greater sensation to the genitals.
  • Erectile dysfunction: Dehydration causes decreased blood volume and increased angiotensin, a hormone associated with erectile dysfunction. Long-term alcohol abuse can cause damage to the nervous system, which is responsible for triggering the signals that cause an erection. Studies have also shown that prolonged abuse can cause irreversible damage to the nerves in the penis. Additional studies have shown erectile dysfunction is present in alcohol abusers even when they are sober.
  • Vaginal dryness: Dehydration caused by alcohol consumption can result in vaginal dryness.
  • Delay or prevention of orgasm: One study found that 11percent of alcohol users had problems reaching orgasm.
  • Hormone disruptor: Alcohol abuse affects hormone levels. It lowers testosterone levels, which diminishes sexual drive and function.

The Sexual Response

Studies have shown that all aspects of the body’s sexual response are ultimately affected by alcohol. The most common effects are premature ejaculation, low sexual desire and erectile dysfunction

Research has also shown:

  • Regularly consuming more alcohol than the liver can break down (one or more standard-size drinks per hour) causes toxins to build up in the body, ultimately leading to clinical signs of sexual dysfunction.
  • Of those who are alcohol-dependent, approximately 61 to 72 percent experience sexual dysfunction.
  • The amount of alcohol consumed is a predictor of developing dysfunctions, with heavier drinking significantly increasing the risk of sexual dysfunction. Greater alcohol consumption also increases the number of symptoms experienced.

Is Sexual Dysfunction Permanent?

As with all other substances of abuse, the only way to prevent adverse physical and mental effects is to abstain from using. When the body is free of alcohol, adverse signs and symptoms no longer contribute to poor sexual performance.

It’s also important to mention that multiple studies have shown that alcohol-induced sexual dysfunction is reversible.

Additional Reading Study: Your Genes Could Make You a Compulsive Drinker

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Sex life and fertility

Drinking alcohol can increase your:

  • confidence with sexual partners
  • sexual desire

But it can have a bad effect on what happens in bed.

Alcohol can also cause long-term problems with sex and fertility.

How alcohol can affect sex and fertility

Problems with erections

Drinking large amounts of alcohol can make it hard to get or keep an erection. This is called erectile dysfunction (ED).

Alcohol interferes with the messengers in the brain that tell the penis to fill with blood.

It can also happen because alcohol can reduce the production of testosterone. Testosterone is the hormone that controls male sexual functions.

ED is normally a temporary problem.

Problems with orgasms

Alcohol interferes with your ability to feel sexual stimulation. It does this by interfering with the signals between the brain and the genitals.

After heavy drinking:

  • men may find it hard to ejaculate (come) or may ejaculate too quickly
  • women may find it harder to orgasm or their orgasms may feel less intense

Sex drive (libido)

Drinking heavily over a long period of time can lead to a lower sex drive (libido). This is because it reduces your levels of testosterone.

Shrinking of sex organs

High-risk drinking over a long time can cause a man’s testes and penis to shrink.

Fertility

Lowered testosterone can affect sperm production. This can reduce fertility.

Women who drink heavily for a long time may find they stop ovulating.

Even small amounts of alcohol can affect fertility.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and affects your judgement. This increases your chances of having unprotected sex. This puts you at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Bizarre Facts About Wine and Your Sex Drive

Lifestyle October 1, 2014 – Updated on September 10th, 2019

Wine and sex is definitely not a pairing that instantly comes into mind. However, even though we don’t talk about it, wine is used as a social lubricant all the time–which left us wondering…

Why is Wine and Sex a Thing?

In 2009, an Italian research group published a study that showed a correlation of drinking wine –specifically red wine– increased the sexual appetite of women. The study queried 800 Italian women who drank red wine, other alcohol, or no alcohol at all. The red wine drinkers scored 2 points higher than other alcohol drinkers, and 4 more points than teetotalers. Overall, the study isn’t enough to support wine and sex drive, but it did inspire more research.

Wine and Your Sex Drive

“Delicatessen” photo by Daniela Vladimirova

Why Alcohol Makes You Horny, Hungry, and Hot

Alcohol in small amounts will increase your libido. It will also make you hungry and feel flushed. This is because ethanol stimulates a primitive part of your brain called the hypothalamus, which is located right above your brain stem. This portion of the brain regulates basic human functions, including body temperature, hunger, hormone levels, parental attachment behavior and, of course, sex drive.

Moderation is Key: You only need a little bit of wine to feel these effects. You’d be surprised how many people don’t realize this, but too much wine over your weight limit is bad for you. Not that I don’t trust you, but one can never stop talking about the importance of moderation.

FACT: It’s been shown that alcohol tends to arouse women more than men.

The Wine Blends To Know

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Smelling Wine Turns You On

Several studies have been conducted over the last 10 years attempting to identify what smells activate the sex drives in women and men. While this science is still very new and also pretty complex, it’s been suggested that certain smells turn us on. Oddly enough, a lot of the aromas found in wine are the aromas that turn us on.

Women are Aroused by Different Smells than Men

Aromas that Arouse Women

Women tend to get turned on by musky, earthy, woody, licorice-y, and cherry-like aromas.

While we don’t have conclusive evidence, these flavor descriptions sound a lot like words used to describe fine Nebbiolo, Barbera, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, and even rustic Pinot Noir.

Aromas That Arouse Men

Men tend to get turned by with lavender, caramel, butter, orange, licorice, baking spice, and vanilla-like aromas.

We can’t make definitive claims but many of these aromas are commonly found in fine Champagne, Moscato, Dry Sherry, Tawny Port, Vin Santo, Grenache, Syrah, and even Rosé wines.

FACT: People with Anosmia (a condition where you lose your sense of smell) typically have lower sex drives.

Your Smell Memory Unconsciously Conditions You

Smell memories, or olfactory memories, are some of the strongest and longest lasting memories we have. You’ve probably experienced explicit olfactory memories in which certain aromas bring back specific memories from the past. However, you might not know that there are also implicit olfactory memories that are unconscious, priming or conditioning us to behave in a certain way.

Thus, if you’ve had really wild nights in the past with a particular sparkling rosé wine, it’s quite possible that you’ve unconsciously conditioned yourself to become aroused with the wine’s aromas. Of course, to build these aroma memories, you need to start taking the time to really sniff your wines.

Other Strange Reasons Why Wine is an Aphrodisiac

Perhaps you’ve heard that wine and chocolate are aphrodisiacs. So why is this? Well, it’s been suggested that it’s because of the presence of amines. Amines are organic compounds that are present in very small amounts in wine.

Several analyses of red wines including, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc, indicated that wines with the highest amounts of amines tend to be made with natural yeasts, oak-aged, unfined, unfiltered and had undergone malolactic fermentation.

A few of the common amines found in red wine are histamine, tyramine, spermidine, putrescine and serotonin. Histamine correlates to an increased sex drive, alertness, and weight loss. However, despite its positives as a stimulant, histamine can also cause inflammation and hypertension in people who are highly sensitive to it. So again, with all things… moderation is key.

Alcohol “…provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance” said Shakespeare, but was he right? It is common belief that alcohol helps us lose our inhibitions and can also act as an aphrodisiac (sometimes!). But it’s not often thought of as a performance enhancer in the bedroom. I refer you to “brewers droop”, the age-old nickname for temporary erectile dysfunction induced by alcohol.

The notion of too much alcohol as a passion killer is backed up by anecdotal and scientific evidence, but this doesn’t seem to dampen the media fascination with it as a libido enhancer. Is there any truth behind the notion that a couple of pints can really make you a better lover or is this just another “sexy” science story?

There is a significant body of research that suggests alcohol is associated with heightened sexual response (increased arousal and enhanced orgasm) and loosening of sexual inhibitions. Historically, alcohol also has a long association with romance and sex in terms of advertising. On the other hand, alcohol is linked with an increase in risky sexual behaviours, which can result in unwanted pregnancy and sexual transmitted diseases. Given these opposing effects, why do media articles tend to focus on the positive association between alcohol and sex, and what do the research studies behind the media stories tell us?

A recent story in the Independent reported on the claims made by a new book called the “The Married Sex Solution”. Sex expert Dr Kat Van Kirk believes that drinking beer can lead to four distinct improvements in the sexual experience for males: (1) delayed ejaculation, (2) enhanced libido and more intense erections, (3) increased sexual stamina and (4) that beer can help “your overall health” and thus make you less “sluggish in sex”. Interestingly, the only point to reference a peer reviewed research article is the third – that “alcohol improves sexual stamina”.

A study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology reports on a meta-analysis of 13 studies looking at cardiovascular risk and beer consumption. The findings suggest a J-shaped curve, suggesting a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in those who drink 55g of beer a day or less. It is important to note that this study did not actually measure sexual stamina, instead reduced cardiovascular risk was taken as a proxy. Also, it is not fully clear what “grams of alcohol” means here. If the measure reflects pure ethanol, 55g of beer is equivalent to approximately 7 units or 3 and a half pints of fairly weak beer per day. This seems like a lot of alcohol to be consumed each day!

An article in The Telegraph reported on a 2009 study conducted by the Western Australia’s Keogh Institute for Medical Research. This study examined the impact of alcohol use on male erectile dysfunction. The Telegraph article did not provide a link to a peer reviewed article, but I found a study on this published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. It collected information from 1,580 men on erectile function, alcohol, and tobacco use. The Telegraph reported that the men who drank a moderate amount of alcohol reported 30% fewer erectile problems than non-drinkers. The article interprets this finding as a “favourable association” between moderate drinkers and erectile function.

The authors of the research paper indicate that none of the reported associations between drinking status and erectile function were “statistically significant” until cardiovascular disease and smoking status were controlled for in analyses. It is also important to remember that the study used self-report measures of alcohol consumption and erectile dysfunction, meaning any associations observed are dependent on the ability and willingness of participants to accurately report their alcohol use and erectile problems

A third study reported in The Independent this year looked at whether alcohol can boost women’s sex drives. The study showed that following moderate alcohol consumption, levels of testosterone increased in women, but not men. This might be evidence of alcohol increasing the libido of women via a temporary surge in the male sex hormone. Despite being reported in The Independent this year, the research in question appears to come from a study published in Nature by Alko (a large Finnish alcohol retailer) in 1994.

The research itself is a one-page report on an experimental study where men and women were given either an alcoholic beverage or a non-alcoholic juice, and hormone levels were measured (although it is not clear how). When controlling for contraceptive use and menstrual cycle (which affects hormone levels) alcohol increased testosterone compared with the placebo in women, but not men.

There are a number of methodological questions that cannot be answered from the information in this short report – did the participants know if they were receiving an alcoholic or placebo beverage? In what conditions were participants tested? However, for me the biggest question is why would the media report on a study conducted over 20 years ago, which is a considerable amount of time in the fast moving world of scientific research?

Interestingly, the publication of the article in The Independent coincided with a press release for a new vodka by a company called Alko-plus. (It is not clear whether this company is affiliated with Alko). In the press release, the vodka is specifically aimed at women, with claims made regarding the capability of alcohol to increase female libido: “Hey Gals: Put New Meaning Into Your July 4th Fireworks; Alko-Plus Creates ‘Lust Vodka’ that it says Increases Female Sexual Desire”.

Reviewing these articles and the corresponding research studies has made me think about the issues involved in studying sex and alcohol and in reporting and interpreting research findings. There are many complex individual differences in the psychological and physiological factors that influence the response to both sex and alcohol. The association between sex and alcohol is dependent upon alcohol dosage, alcohol expectancy, and measurement of alcohol and sexual behaviour.

In terms of dose, there may be an optimal amount of alcohol to induce these positive effects on sexual arousal or performance. Once past that threshold the effects may be more negative. This notion is supported by the biphasic nature of alcohol, with stimulant effects as blood alcohol concentration increases, but depressant effects as it decreases again.

Alcohol expectancy can also impact sexual behaviour during intoxication. Simply believing that drinking alcohol increases sexual arousal may lead to actual arousal during intoxication. Expectancies about alcohol consumption are a key element of research examining the effects of alcohol on any behaviour. It is important that research determines the impact of both the direct pharmacological effects and expectation.

Finally, the way alcohol use is measured can impact on the association with sexual behaviour. The administration of alcohol in an experimental study versus self-report of alcohol use by drinkers is likely to yield different study findings. Furthermore, it is very difficult to directly measure sexual behaviour. Most studies have to rely on self-report of sexual arousal and performance or use proxy measures such as cardiovascular and physiological function.

Accurate representation of research evidence on alcohol and sex may not yield a “sexy” headline. However, clear and honest reporting of research findings and at least a link to the original published study should allow the reader to make up their own mind when faced with the scientific evidence.

In this case alcohol’s ability to increase prowess in the bedroom does not appear to be as straightforward as presented in the media. The link between sex and alcohol is a complex one and best interpreted when a clear and balanced picture is available, rather than a “sexed-up” story.

Dr Sally Adams is a lecturer in health psychology at the University of Bath. Her research examines the cognitive and behavioural mechanisms underlying alcohol and tobacco use. Find her on Twitter @SallyScientist

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