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Is Alcohol Wreaking Havoc on Your Sexual Performance?

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 inhibits sexual performance.

Believe it or not, a great number of studies have conclusively shown that 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 that 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 11% 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% 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

How to Find Treatment for Alcohol Misuse Near Me

If you or someone you love is struggling with problem drinking, help is available and recovery is possible. Professional treatment can start those battling addiction on the path to healthy and happy lives. You can contact American Addiction Centers (AAC) free at for help locating alcohol rehabilitation programs near you. You can also check your health insurance benefits using the form below or contact free drug and alcohol hotline numbers.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment Levels of Care

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