Can Alcohol Lead to Erectile Dysfunction?

By The Rex MD Editorial Team

March 18, 2021

Occasional drinks during social gatherings like hanging with friends is a common and perfectly safe thing to do. In fact, some research indicates 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 negative conditions. 

While beneficial in moderation, alcohol of course has negative impacts when you 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 lives. Not only is alcohol addiction harmful to your body, but it often impacts 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. 

How Much Alcohol is Too Much?

At some point you've 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 limits are for alcohol. A pounding headache and nausea are a great lagging indicator that you've exceeded your limit. 

The interesting thing about alcohol consumption is that the general amount and tolerance an individual has 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 of how much alcohol is too much: it really varies based upon your anatomy and the way in which you drink. If you have a carbohydrate rich meal with or before drinking, you'll likely tolerate more alcohol, while if you're drinking on an empty stomach you'll most likely be able to tolerate less. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that men should stick to two alcoholic drinks or fewer per day. This recommendation is based on data, but it should be noted that it's simply a recommendation. It's at to your discretion to understand your limitations 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 facilitated by continual and frequent drinking. When addicted to alcohol, it can be difficult to quit as withdrawal symptoms are intense. 

While alcoholism represents the upper extreme of drinking, drinking on a regular and routine basis isn't great for your overall health either.

One of the most popular alcoholic beverages is beer, a refreshing everyday-type of beverage. While great 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 contain 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 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 a problem to you. There are resources, treatments, and alternatives available to you if needed. 

What Does Alcohol Do to the Body?

If you've 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 slow when alcohol is consumed. These effects lead to being stone-cold drunk, and are reasons that some people make poor decisions while drinking. 

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

Another way alcohol affects your body is that it needs to be filtered out of your body through the liver. If you're 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're probably wondering if alcohol has an impact on your sexual health. 

Many studies have been conducted surrounding alcohol consumption and sexual function, and it's 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's 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 explicitly linked to sexual dysfunction. 

Can You Take ED Medication If You Consume Alcohol?

Romantic evenings often include an alcoholic beverage paired with a nice meal out. While that candle-lit ambiance can be conducive to a romantic evening, if you have ED you've likely been in a situation where you wonder if you can still drink in conjunction to taking your ED medication. 

While ED drug manufacturers advise against consuming alcohol with ED medications, it's advised that you don’t regularly take your Viagra® with a shot of whiskey, drinking in moderation may be 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, research indicates it's generally ok to take ED medication with a beverage. 

If you've been drinking in excess, however, this recommendation changes. If you've been drinking more than 1-2 drinks, it's not advised that you take ED medication. Taking a vasodilator in conjunction with being intoxicated may make for an unsafe mix. 

If you have questions about interactions with your ED medication, a licensed medical professional is the best person to answer your questions. 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 not uncommon, is not a primary 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. A variety of medical conditions can impact any one of these components, leading to ED.

Some common causes of erectile dysfunction include high BMI, stress, anxiety, prostate conditions, hormone 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 get treatment easily without a traditional doctor's office visit. Men can place their medication order online and connect with a licensed physician virtually. If the doctor deems treatment necessary, Rex MD ships medication directly to your doorstep. No matter what the cause for ED, Rex MD's licensed physicians can help you find clarity and a compelling treatment option for your specific needs. 

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

Sources

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/red-wine/art-20048281#:~:text=Antioxidants%20in%20red%20wine%20called,effects%20when%20consumed%20in%20moderation.

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/alcohol-withdrawal-symptoms-treatments#1

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917074/

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/20690-sildenafil-tablets-viagra

https://www.nature.com/articles/ejcn201220

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000886.htm

https://www.nature.com/articles/ejcn201220


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Disclaimer : This article is for information only and should not be considered medical advice. Always speak with your doctor about your health and the benefits or risks of any treatment or intervention. This information should not be relied on as a substitute for professional medical advice.