Updated: 2021, Jun 14

Can Alcohol Lead to Erectile Dysfunction?

Alcohol-related erectile dysfunction is a significant source of anxiety for adults. Read on how alcohol intake impacts sexual performance at Consumer Health Digest.

When it comes to alcohol consumption, moderation is key if you want to avoid adverse health outcomes associated with alcohol use such as erectile dysfunction.

Can Alcohol Lead to Erectile Dysfunction?
can alcohol lead to erectile dysfunction? Shutterstock Images.

Some may drink alcohol believing it works as an aphrodisiac, but although alcohol does lower our inhibition and make it easier for us to interact with people, it doesn’t really enhance our performance in the bedroom.

Both long-term and short-term alcohol use was found in numerous studies over the years to cause erectile dysfunction. In case you were wondering how you could develop erectile dysfunction from alcohol, keep reading.

Temporary Erectile Dysfunction from Alcohol

A well-established empirical observation is that alcohol intoxication increases levels of sexual desire but adversely affects sexual performance, especially in men.

The reason for this is that alcohol is a central nervous system depressant as pointed out in an article published in the International Journal of Impotence Research.

Because all aspects of the sexual response are highly dependent on neurotransmitter activities in the brain and the body, alcohol’s depressive effects numb your feelings of pleasure and may cause problems in maintaining an erection and achieving orgasm.

Another way alcohol may lead to temporary erectile dysfunction is by influencing blood flow to the penis. One study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that a depressed central nervous system led to dehydration which resulted in a lower blood volume which of course spells trouble for sexual performance.

Long-term Erectile Dysfunction from Alcohol Abuse

Studies show that erectile dysfunction frequently has an organic rather than psychological origin.

One study even found that chronic alcohol abuse led to problems in all areas of sexual functioning leading to premature ejaculation, loss of desire, and erectile dysfunction.

One reason why alcohol abuse may cause sexual dysfunction in men is that it can lead to vagal neuropathy. Vagal neuropathy is a condition where the vagal nerve is damaged by chronic alcohol consumption.


*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.

This nerve is most responsible for sending signals from the brain to the body and vice versa and is important for many functions in the body, including the sexual response.

Another way long-term alcohol use may lead to erectile dysfunction is by decreasing the levels of sex hormones in your body.

The Good Sides of Alcohol

The Good Sides of Alcohol

The Good Sides of Alcohol

Moderate alcohol consumption, which is defined as up to two drinks per day for men and one drink for women, can actually be good for your health.

When it comes to sexual health, this might especially be true for women as evident in a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine that found that moderate drinking of red wine improved woman’s overall sexual functioning.

Furthermore, one study found that men who drank up to seven glasses of wine weekly had a 52% reduced risk of prostate cancer. Another way moderate alcohol consumption may protect male sexual health is by keeping the cardiovascular system healthy.

Because erectile dysfunction is in many cases a result of circulatory problems, having a healthy heart and blood vessels can help you increase your sexual stamina with age.

The cardioprotective benefits of moderate wine drinking are due to the polyphenol content in some alcoholic beverages but also ethanol.

How to Protect your Sexual Health?

First things first, keep your alcohol intake at recommended doses of one to two drinks per day.

In this way, you will ensure your heart and blood vessels are healthy and this is important if you want to increase your sexual stamina.


*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.

However, unless all aspects of your life are in accordance with the standards of healthy living, then you may also be at risk of developing sexual problems in the long run.

Chronic diseases such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, obesity, and depression are all known risk factors for erectile dysfunction.

Eating healthy, having adequate levels of physical exercise, and drinking moderately can reduce your risk of developing these diseases lower your chances of developing erectile dysfunction.

While most men notice a decline in sexual functioning with age, this decline is often a result of chronic diseases that come with aging rather than the aging process itself.


Erectile dysfunction refers to the inability to achieve or maintain an erection and is often a result of underlying diseases.

However, you can acquire erectile dysfunction from alcohol use as well. Because alcohol is a depressant, it can significantly dull your senses and reduce* your sexual response.

And while you may be fooled by the libido-boosting effects of having a couple of drinks, you are bound to be disappointed in alcohol’s effects on your sexual performance.

Things become even worse with long-term alcohol abuse that can lead to different sexual health problems in men. Alcohol can damage certain nerve endings and affect circulation resulting in a loss of desire and erectile dysfunction.

Alcohol was also found to affect the levels of sex hormones which may also lead to sexual performance problems. Keeping your drinking at moderate doses will ensure that you’ll avoid erectile problems associated with alcohol use.

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