ERECTIONS ∙ 2 minutes read

Does alcohol cause erectile dysfunction?

By Kirsty Mason

The link between alcohol and erectile dysfunction (ED) is complex, but studies have consistently shown that acute and chronic alcohol intake does affect sexual experience, both short-term and long-term. Sex and alcohol can be intertwined, with a small amount of alcohol decreasing our inhibitions thereby increasing our sexual desire. However, as alcohol intake rises, it triggers all sorts of changes in our bodies. And yes, that includes the penis.

You may have heard of ‘whisky dick’ but the experience of many men suggests ‘beer dick’, ‘vodka dick’, ‘wine dick’ and ‘I-don’t-even-remember-what-I-drank dick’ are all just as common. There are multiple reasons why you might experience ED at any given time but with the NHS listing alcohol as a common cause, it’s no surprise that research has revealed links between alcohol and erectile dysfunction.

It’s generally agreed that a small amount of alcohol (one or two glasses, depending on your size) won’t have any physical effects on your sexual response, but binge drinking can cause short-term changes to your body. After chronic alcohol abuse, studies have found that erectile dysfunction often becomes a much more persistent problem.

Short-term effects of alcohol on erectile dysfunction:

Have you ever stumbled in from a night out ready to get it on and then the little man lets you down? You’re not alone. Here are some of the reasons why it was so (or not so) hard that night…

Alcohol is linked to dehydration:

When we get boozy, we become dehydrated, which can cause all sorts of problems when it comes to ED. Dehydration impacts blood pressure and a reduction in fluids means the blood flow around the body may be compromised. Blood flow to the penis is a crucial factor when it comes to getting and staying hard, meaning the dehydrating effects of alcohol could inhibit an erection after a boozy evening.

Alcohol can reduce sexual sensitivity:

Losing our inhibitions, slowing our reactions and reducing our sensitivity - you might find that alcohol causes sex to feel different in all kinds of ways. With alcohol reducing sexual sensitivity, it’s harder to get and maintain an erection.

Long-term effects of alcohol on erectile dysfunction:

Experiencing ED after a night of heavy drinking is common and usually nothing to worry about. However, continuous abuse of alcohol can lead to long-term problems with getting and maintaining an erection. This is because alcohol can cause damage to the nerve function which in turn reduces the ability to get hard.

If you’re struggling with alcohol abuse, you should visit your local GP or sexual health clinic. You can also find several charities to support you on your journey to recovery.

The bottom line

As alcohol leads to changes in the body, you might find that your ability to get, and maintain, an erection is compromised. Although erectile dysfunction is common after a heavy night of drinking, continuous abuse of alcohol can lead to permanent difficulties.

Don’t forget, erectile dysfunction is extremely common, especially when alcohol is involved, and there are a range of treatments which can help prevent the problem from recurring.

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