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July 6, 2021 • read
How alcohol can affect you in the bedroom — for men
Getting drinks is often part of the dating ritual — it can help you loosen up and feel more relaxed. But alcohol can have wide-ranging effects on your body and its systems. If you’re looking to get romantic, even a minimal amount of alcohol can get in your way. Here’s how alcohol can affect you in the bedroom.
Alcohol and your libido
Drinking alcohol lowers your inhibitions, which can initially be good for your sex life. As with anything, however, too much ruins the effect. Excessive drinking is not only responsible for mechanical sexual dysfunction — which you’ll learn more about later on, it can also reduce desire. Alcohol is a nervous system depressant, and can decrease sensation in your genitals. This means that it might take you more time and stimulation to become aroused, or to reach orgasm. If you have an alcohol-use disorder, excessive drinking can extinguish your libido, stopping you from even trying to initiate sexual intercourse. If you notice that your sexual desire seems to be on vacation, or you’d rather have a beer than spend some quality romantic time with a partner, you may want to take a look at your drinking patterns.
How alcohol affects your penis
Besides curtailing your libido, alcohol also decreases blood flow to your penis. During arousal, blood rushes to your penis, making it erect. If this blood flow is interrupted or turned down, it’s harder to get and sustain an erection. More than a couple of drinks can decrease blood flow to your penis enough that you might not be able to get an erection at all.
Many men experience premature ejaculation, or not being able to get or sustain an erection from time to time. The more alcohol you consume, however, the more likely you are to experience erectile dysfunction on a regular basis. Alcohol can also cause anorgasmia, which is the inability to achieve orgasm, despite ejaculation.
How alcohol affects the male body
Like cigarettes and asbestos, alcohol is a carcinogen. This means that consuming alcohol increases your risk of developing certain cancers. While it’s not guaranteed that everyone who drinks excessively will get cancer, the less you drink, the lower your risk is of developing cancer. But alcohol affects your body in other ways as well. Too much alcohol impairs your liver functioning, leading to alcoholic hepatitis, and other forms of liver disease.
Excessive drinking can also disrupt your hormone levels, lowering the amount of testosterone you produce. When this happens, it can result in an increase in gynecomastia — an increase in a man’s breast tissue. Growing breasts, however, isn’t the only way excess alcohol can change you physically. Over time, chronic drinking and its corresponding drop in testosterone production can cause a constellation of symptoms, including osteoporosis, a decrease in muscle mass, and even smaller testicles. While not all of these will directly affect you in the bedroom, they can negatively impact your overall health and body image.
Alcohol and male fertility
It turns out pregnant women, or women who are trying to conceive, aren’t the only ones who need to alter their alcohol habits. While women in these scenarios should completely cut out alcohol, men who are trying to conceive should reign in their drinking as well. Alcohol can affect your sperm — not only how many sperm you produce, but also their shape and their motility (how well they swim). Data from one Danish study shows that even five units of alcohol a week can affect your semen quality, and increasing the amount of alcohol you drink amplifies the negative effects. The study also shows that men who consume 40 units of alcohol a week have a sperm count that’s 33% lower than their peers who drink one to five units a week.
Luckily, it appears that the effects of alcohol consumption on your sperm are reversible in most cases. One study showed that as little as 90 days of alcohol abstinence may improve sperm health. If you and your partner are having trouble conceiving, alcohol could be playing a part. Cutting back, or stopping drinking completely can help.
Repairing the sexual effects of alcohol
Quitting drinking or cutting back on alcohol consumption can reverse many of the sexual issues that excessive drinking causes. With that being said, sometimes your relationship needs a little additional rehab. Start small by aiming to spend one evening a week alone with your partner, and keep it alcohol and screen-free. If you have demanding schedules, start by putting aside 15 minutes to connect. Practice active listening, and make a point not to criticise or correct one another. Focus on rebuilding emotional intimacy with your partner and seeing how the other person is really doing. If excessive drinking has caused resentment or medical problems, you may benefit from seeking additional counselling to address these issues.
It’s ok to enjoy a drink or two from time-to-time. If you find yourself needing a drink in order to get into the mood, then it may be time to consider if something more is going on. If sex is making you feel anxious enough to need a drink first, or if you feel that alcohol is affecting you in the bedroom, it’s likely beneficial to speak to a therapist. Left unaddressed, continual sexual dysfunction can lead to both interpersonal issues with your partner, as well as a lack of sexual pleasure for you.