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Sam Woolfe - Feb 4, 2020

Whiskey WHAT? How Alcohol Can Affect Intimacy

Sexual performance often plays an important role in men’s self-esteem. When men feel a strong sense of sexual prowess, this helps to boost their self-image, contributing to the belief that they have the power and ability to satisfy partners sexually. On the other hand, when sexual performance is negatively impacted, men can feel a loss of manhood. While it is not recommended to rely on something as labile as sexual performance in order to feel good enough as a man, caring about sexual performance is still valid. A healthy sexual life is an important part of any intimate relationship.

There are many things that can affect sexual performance: stress, performance anxiety, mental health problems, and relationship issues. If, as a man, you don’t feel troubled by these problems, yet your sexual performance is still sometimes affected, it’s worth considering another main culprit: alcohol. When alcohol affects your ability to get and maintain an erection and how long you last in bed, this is known as ‘whiskey dick’. It is a perennial phenomenon. Shakespeare even drew attention it in Macbeth: “[Drink] provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance.”

Why Alcohol Affects Sexual Performance

Alcohol can negatively impact a man’s sexual performance for a variety of reasons. For example, temporary erectile dysfunction can result because alcohol decreases blood flow to the penis and depresses your central nervous system, which is why sober men are able to achieve an erection more quickly than their intoxicated counterparts, and can maintain their erection for longer. Drinking heavily can also dampen your mood, decrease sexual desire, and make it difficult to achieve an orgasm. While taking longer to ejaculate may seem like a plus, delayed ejaculation is actually a downside for many women. There’s such a thing as lasting too long.

Chronic, heavy drinking can lead to long-term erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. Alcohol leads to an increase in the hormone angiotensin, a hormone linked to erectile dysfunction. Getting drunk may help lower a man’s inhibitions and decrease his anxiety in the bedroom, but the effects on sexual performance that occur from heavy drinking may crush the sexual confidence that alcohol helped to boost.

Watch Your Alcohol Intake, Improve Your Sexual Performance

While heavy, regular drinking has been linked to reduced sexual performance in men, this doesn’t mean drinking in itself will always affect a man’s sex life. For instance, some research has found no link between moderate drinking and erectile dysfunction. What’s more, men who drink moderately have rates of erectile dysfunction 25-30% below those of teetotallers. And this benefit has been confirmed in a separate study. The definition of ‘moderate drinking’ varies by country, but in the US, it refers to up to four alcoholic drinks in a single day for men and a maximum of 14 drinks a week (also for men). If you can keep your drinking within these limits, then you shouldn’t notice any dip in your sexual performance. The reason that so many men have disappointing sexual experiences is that they regularly drink heavily on nights out or dates and then end up having sex while in that state.

By watching your alcohol intake, which includes how much you drink, and how often, you will give yourself the best chances of avoiding whiskey dick and having positive sexual experiences.

Written by Sam Woolfe

I'm a freelance writer who is interested in mindfulness, mental health and the evolving concept of masculinity.

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