Alcohol And Erectile Dysfunction: Do Alcohol Abuse Cause ED?



We all know about the pros as well as cons of taking alcohol. Some of us like it, some of us don’t. Some are concerned about the side effects it has on one’s health, some are freer with their consumption habits. How alcohol is associated with erectile dysfunction?

However, can alcohol affect anything other than the kidney or liver? More specifically, can alcohol cause erectile dysfunction? A study by the International Journal of Impotence Research shows that regular alcohol consumption is negatively associated with erectile dysfunction.

Alcohol has been long regarded as the risk factor for erectile dysfunction. It has been estimated that low alcohol intake increases sexual desire but negatively affects sexual performance. This is because alcohol is a central nervous system depressant.

In this article, we shall learn more about this conjecture and establish the how’s and what’s of erectile dysfunction, as well as its relationship with alcohol.

Before doing that, let us tell you briefly about what Erectile dysfunction is and what are its preliminary causes and symptoms.

What is Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Erectile dysfunction is the inability to keep a firm erection during intercourse. If you experience problems with an erection from time to time, it is not necessarily a cause for concern unless it is persistent.

However, if it becomes an ongoing issue, it can cause stress and culminate into low self-confidence, even in bed.


Some of the causes of erectile dysfunction are

  • Heart diseases
  • Clogged blood vessels
  • High blood pressure or cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Certain prescription medications
  • Tobacco use
  • Peyronie’s disease
  • Alcoholism
  • Sleep disorders
  • Treatments for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate
  • Injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord
  • Low testosterone

Apart from these, psychological causes also play a significant role in increasing the risk of erectile dysfunction. Some of these include depression, anxiety, stress, or even relationship issues.


How do you know when to visit a doctor regarding erectile dysfunction? If you have:

  • Persistent trouble getting or keeping an erection
  • Decreased sexual desire

Apart from these, if you have diabetes, heart diseases, or some other condition that might be linked to erectile dysfunction, go and see a doctor immediately.


Can Erectile Dysfunction Cause Further Complications?

The answer is yes. It can lead to an unsatisfactory sex life, stress, depression, low self-esteem, and relationship problems. People who are looking to have a baby may face difficulties due to ED.

ED can also result in cardiovascular diseases.

The spectrum of erectile dysfunction includes:

  • Reduced sexual desire: persistent absence of desire for sexual activity.
  • Sexual aversion disorder: aversion of all sexual contact leading to distress.
  • Difficulty in getting an erection: partial or complete failure to get and/or maintain an erection.
  • Difficulty in achieving orgasm: recurrent delay or absence of orgasm.
  • Premature ejaculation: Recurrent ejaculation with minimum sexual stimulation.

How Can Alcohol Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

There are numerous risk factors for Erectile Dysfunction, such as age, diseases, depression, and smoking. But according to the study done by the International Journal of Impotence Research, the relationship between alcohol intake and erectile dysfunction became clearer. On the contrary, hardly any study has ever found potential benefits of alcohol in association with erectile dysfunction.

The study also tried to estimate how much alcohol intake leads to potential erectile dysfunction. They estimated a cut-off of “8 or more drinks/week” before alcohol became hostile. They even figured that heavy drinking increased the risk factor for ED.

Episodic erectile dysfunction in alcoholic men is very common, according to a finding by Van Thiel and Lester. 61% of men dependent on alcohol reported erectile dysfunction, with coexisting reduced sexual desire. 36 out of 96 subjects reported premature ejaculation.

Even in the case of women, high alcohol intake leads to difficulty in achieving orgasms. Alcohol interferes with the ability to perceive sexual stimulations, which leads to lowered sexual desire in women. Also, women who were alcoholics showed early signs of menopause.

High alcohol intake could also lead to the shrinking of men’s genital organs. It leads to a decrease in libido or sex drive. It can also affect sperm production due to lowered testosterone.

Thus, studies have established that a higher amount of alcoholic beverage intake leads to higher cases of sexual dysfunction. However, the dependence of erectile dysfunction on the number of years of alcohol intake could not be determined.

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5 Ways alcohol can affect sex life

  • Temporary Erectile Dysfunction:

Too much alcohol might affect both the brain and the penis. Drinking alcohol before intercourse can reduce the blood flow towards the penis, thereby reducing the intensity of the orgasm. It can also dampen sexual excitement.

  • Long-Term Erectile Dysfunction:

Studies show that alcoholic men have a 60 to 70 per cent chance of complaining of erectile dysfunction. High alcohol intake can lead to erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and reduced sexual desire.

  • Effect On Relationships:

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that high alcohol intake may cause distress in relationships leading to fighting, conflicts, hypertension, infidelity, and in some cases, even divorce.

  • Smoking:

Alcohol is often accompanied by tobacco usage. This further increases the risk of erectile dysfunction. Men who smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day were found to be at a higher risk of erectile dysfunction.

  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases:

Combining sex and alcohol is never a good idea. This might lead to carelessness when it comes to using protection and may lead to the transmission of STDs. The problem is more persistent in young adults, who are more likely to have unprotected sex after high alcohol intake.

  • Dehydration:

Alcohol takes away the blood and oxygen flow from the genitals, dehydrating the body. Dehydration can cause other health complexities apart from erectile dysfunction.

  • Nervous System Depressant:

Alcohol is a nervous system depressant. It suppresses blood circulation, respiration, and nerve-ending sensitivity.

  • Vaginal Dryness:

In women, alcohol has been found to dehydrate the genitals, thereby causing vaginal dryness.

  • Disruption of Hormones:

High intake of alcohol can affect and abuse hormone levels. It lowers testosterone, which diminishes sexual drive and leads to erectile dysfunction.

Why Must You Decrease Your Alcohol Intake?

While alcohol intake, in many cases, leads to increased sociability and soothing of senses, it does more harm than good. Ironically, despite being a good social lubricant, alcohol can negatively affect your sex life adversely.

While having one or two glasses of red wine is still considered beneficial for cardiovascular diseases, in turn also increasing sexual capacity, too much is never too good. While moderate alcohol consumption can decrease sexual inhibitions, high intake can lead to erectile dysfunction.

In fact, women are advised strictly against alcohol during conceiving or in the first few months of pregnancy. Alcohol intake can severely affect fertility and may lead to an early miscarriage in cases of pregnant women.


Sexual dysfunction, while being embarrassing and stress-inducing, is not found to be permanent. If one abstains from alcohol intake, the adverse signs and symptoms might stop contributing to erectile dysfunction. Multiple studies have found that alcohol induces sexual dysfunction is reversible and not permanent.

So why play with fortune? Put a stop to high alcohol intake, in order to have a healthy and happy life.


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