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Can Alcohol Lead to Erectile Dysfunction?

March 18, 2021
5 mins

Occasional drinks during social gatherings like hanging with friends is a common and perfectly safe thing to do. In fact, there is research to indicate that drinking in moderation can be beneficial to your overall health. Alcoholic beverages like wine are full of antioxidants that help defend your body from oxidative damage which can be a component of many different conditions. 

While beneficial in moderation, alcohol can have negative impacts when people develop a dependence or drink excessively on a daily basis. Alcohol dependency is one of the most common forms of addiction and has devastating impacts on people's lives. Not only is alcohol addiction harmful to your body, but it often will impact the relationships and people surrounding that individual. 

Below is a discussion surrounding alcohol consumption as well as how it relates to your overall and sexual health. Through this article you will gain a deeper insight into the effects that alcohol consumption can have on your body as well as how it can effect your sex life. The article also goes into other lifestyle choices that could cause erectile dysfunction. 

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How Much Alcohol is Too Much?

At some point you have most likely run into the real life answer to this question. The morning after a fun night out at the bar can quickly remind you what your limit is for alcohol. A pounding headache and hangover is a great indicator that you have exceeded your limit. 

The interesting thing about alcohol consumption is that the general amount and tolerance an individual has toward it varies from person to person. Factors like weight, gender, body fat, and more all play a role in how much alcohol you can tolerate. 

To answer the question, it really varies based upon your specific anatomy and the way in which you drink. If you have a carbohydrate rich meal with or before drinking, you can most likely tolerate more while if you are on an empty stomach you will most likely be able to tolerate less. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that men should aim to stick to two alcoholic drinks or less a day. This recommendation is based on data, but it should be noted that it is simply a recommendation. It is up to your discretion to understand your limitation and to try your best to not overindulge. 

When Does Alcohol Consumption Become a Problem?

While occasional drinking doesn’t pose an immediate threat to your health, over consumption and addiction certainly can. Alcoholism is a dependence on alcohol that is facilitated by continual and frequent drinking. When addicted to alcohol it can be difficult to quit as withdrawal symptoms can be quite intense. 

While alcoholism represents the upper extreme of drinking, drinking on a regular and routine basis is not great for your overall health. 

One of the most popular alcoholic beverages is beer, which to many, is a nice, refreshing everyday-type of beverage. While nice after a long day at the office or at the worksite, beer is one of the more calorie dense alcoholic beverages. Some craft beers can even be as much as 350 calories per serving

When daily alcohol consumption is paired with an inactive lifestyle, beer can be a source of excessive calorie intake which can lead to weight gain. Studies have even been conducted that have linked increased level of alcohol consumption to an increased probability of obesity. 

Drinking becomes a problem when it begins interfering with your health and day to day activities. Alcohol addiction and alcohol linked weight gain are two indicators that drinking may be posing a problem to you. There are resources and alternatives available to you if it is needed. 

What Does Alcohol Do to the Body?

If you have ever had too much to drink, you most likely felt the symptoms associated with being tipsy. Coordination, inhibition, and higher level functioning of the brain slows when alcohol is consumed. These effects lead to being drunk and is a reason that some people make poor decisions while drinking. 

Alcohol also acts as a diuretic which causes water loss in the human body. Dehydration is a key component to why hangovers occur. When you drink you lose water through urination more readily. If you are not rehydrating, this leads to a dehydration headache which is a common symptom of hangovers. 

Another way alcohol affects your body is that it needs to be filtered out of your body through the liver. If you are a heavy drinker, it can overload the filtration ability of the liver and lead to liver problems. 

How Alcohol Causes Sexual Dysfunction

With the basics of alcohol consumption out of the way, you are probably still wondering if alcohol has an impact on your sexual health. 

Many studies have been conducted surrounding this and it has been found that alcohol dependence is linked to the development of sexual dysfunction. The research found that the most common dysfunction associated with alcohol consumption was premature ejaculation. This was closely followed by an increased chance of erectile dysfunction and increased chance of low libido. 

These findings are not all that surprising as drinking in excess contributes to many physiological changes within the body. It is understandable that slowed brain activity, dehydration, and loss of inhibition can all impact your sexual performance and health. Based on the research excessive drinking can lead to sexual dysfunction but moderate drinking is not particularly linked with sexual dysfunction. 

Can You Take ED Medication If You Consume Alcohol?

Romantic evenings can typically include a romantic alcoholic beverage paired with a nice meal. While it can up the ambiance of a candle lit dinner, if you have ED, you have more than likely been in a situation where you wonder if you can still drink in conjunction to taking your ED medication. 

While it is advised that you don’t regularly take your Viagra® with a shot of whiskey, drinking in moderation is acceptable when taking ED medication

Try your best to not mix the two on a regular basis but if you are in the spur of the moment, it is alright to take your ED medication if you have had a drink or two. 

If you have been drinking in excess however, this recommendation changes. If you have been drinking in excess and are just plastered, it is not advised that you take ED medication. Taking the vasodilator in conjunction with being intoxicated could make for an unsafe mix. 

If you have questions about interactions with your ED medication, reach out to a licensed medical professional. The information above is for general knowledge purposes and seeking medical advice from a doctor is advised to ensure you are receiving safe and effective treatment. 

What Are Other Causes of Erectile Dysfunction?

Alcohol related erectile dysfunction while present, is not a large reason that men experience ED. The inability to maintain or get an erection is a complex system that involves the brain, nervous system, endocrine system, and cardiovascular system. Causes for erectile dysfunction can impact any one of these components and lead to ED.

Some common causes of erectile dysfunction include high BMI, stress, anxiety, prostate conditions, hormonal imbalance, sexually transmitted infections, and more. Most of these conditions are attributable to lifestyle choices, and in some cases, if managed correctly, can reduce ED symptoms. 

In other cases, ED requires medical assistance. Luckily there are a number of different erectile dysfunction medications available to those that need it. 

REX MD is a streamlined telehealth service that allows men to seek treatment without the barriers associated with a traditional doctors visit. Men can arrange an online office visit with a licensed physician and if the doctor deems treatment necessary, can ship medication directly to their doorstep. So, no matter what the cause for ED, REX MD licensed physicians can help you find clarity and a possible treatment option for your specific needs. 


In summary, alcohol itself is not a direct causative agent of erectile dysfunction. You can rest assured that having an occasional drink with friends of family is of no threat to your sexual health. It is only when alcohol consumption is taken to the extreme that it can begin having an impact on both your overall wellbeing and sexual health. 


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