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What is the Relationship Between Alcohol and Erectile Dysfunction?

By Tara Barnett
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Alcohol and erectile dysfunction are often related causally, though the effects of alcohol on erectile dysfunction vary in the long and short term. In the short term, drinking can cause a man to lose the ability to achieve or maintain an erection. Drinking in the long term, on the other hand, can cause impotence due to the negative physical effects on the body from alcohol consumption. For most people, alcohol in moderation does not cause erectile dysfunction, although preexisting erectile problems can be made worse with alcohol.

Many men who experience problems with sexual activity due to alcohol are not alcoholics, but rather people who have drunk too much to perform sexually. Alcohol can suppress the nervous system, making the body's physical response to sensations in normally sensitive areas less intense. As such, even if a man can achieve an erection under the influence of alcohol, it is not always possible to ejaculate.

For most men, alcohol and erectile dysfunction are related only through this numbing effect. Some people, though, find that after heavy drinking, the dysfunction persists into the next day. This may be caused by alcohol's blood-thinning effects, making it difficult to maintain a solid erection.

When alcohol is consumed in moderation, it can sometimes help overcome erectile dysfunction that is caused by anxiety. Being controlled by inhibitions can fully prevent an erection, no matter how much a man wants to achieve one. Alcohol does occasionally have a positive relationship to erectile problems, but it is not a good idea for men to build up the experience of sex in a way that will train the body not to become aroused without alcohol. Moreover, this positive relationship is dependent on drinking a reasonable amount, which may be difficult to maintain over a long night.

The long-term effects of heavy drinking or severe alcoholism are usually dire and negative. While a few drinks will not cause these negative effects, any person who consumes large quantities of alcohol on a regular basis is at risk of developing liver problems and experiencing generally impaired bodily function. There is no telling precisely which problems will cause the body to lose its ability to achieve an erection, but a person who is in poor health will certainly experience decreased sexual health as well. This kind of erectile dysfunction is often permanent.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By truman12 — On May 08, 2012

I have kind of a unique experience in this area. I have suffered from male erectile dysfunction for most of my adult life. But I have found some relief from the symptoms if I have had a few drinks.

Erectile dysfunction is as much a mental problem as a biological problem. I have trouble achieving an erection becomes of some kind of block in my mind. If I have had a few drinks that block does not seem to be as strong. In my diminished capacity it becomes less of an issue for me.

I would not recommend that guys with ED go out and get drunk, but if you can find ways to take the pressure off of your performance it helps a lot.

By ZsaZsa56 — On May 07, 2012

I think that just about any guy will tell you that alcohol does not usually help your sexual performance. It may make you look better, and make her look better, but it is not going to help you out when it really counts.

And that can be a really embarrassing moment for a guy. You don't want to be embarrassed and miss out on a fun experience all because you drank too much. Bud light is not worth that kind of sacrifice.

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