Erectile Dysfunction

Whiskey Dick: Here's What You Should Know

November 8, 2021

Alcohol and sex have a long and complicated relationship. A few adult beverages can lower inhibitions and lead to some wild adventures; unfortunately, it can also lead to the dreaded “whiskey dick.” 

There are few things as frustrating to guys (and their partners?) as alcohol-induced erectile dysfunction. It can ruin the night, with only yourself to blame. 

While the memories of this painful experience may linger, the effects of whiskey dick will most surely be gone by morning, so don’t go looking for that Viagra prescription just yet. 

How Do Erections Even Happen?

Before understanding why whiskey dick (sometimes spelled "whisky dick") can happen, first you need to understand the process of achieving an erection. 

There are a ton of chemical and physiological reactions that need to occur for an erection to be created. Disruptions to any part of the process and the erection will either be too weak for sex or won’t last very long. 

During arousal, your brain sends various chemical messengers throughout the body. These signals are sent through the spinal cord and nervous system to the blood vessels and muscles of your penis.

The chemical compound nitric oxide is one of the key messenger signals in the erection process, and it catalyzes the release of another chemical called cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). Together, these chemicals work to dilate your blood vessels and relax muscle tissues in the penis in order to increase and maintain blood flow. 

When there is a rush of blood to the penis, the veins that normally carry blood out of the penis are compressed. As they compress, less blood can leave the penis, and this leads to excess blood being trapped in the penis, resulting in an erection. Much like a balloon, the penis can hold seven times as much blood during an erection as it does when flaccid.


How Does Alcohol Affect Erections?

Although alcohol might make you feel more aroused than usual and even give you the confidence to make your move, it can severely impact erections and sexual performance in a few ways. 

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and slows brain activity and signalling. This is why you feel more confident and less anxious when drinking alcohol. Your brain is more relaxed. Alcohol can also hinder your nervous system’s ability to relay messages throughout your body and delay reaction time. Remember, your nervous system is key to creating and maintaining an erection. Disrupting its signalling processes can make an erection much more difficult.

Another way that alcohol can have a negative impact on your erection is that it thins your blood. Alcohol will prevent your blood cells from sticking together and clotting, making your blood much thinner than usual. While this leads to more blood flowing into your penis than normal, it also leads to much more blood flowing out of it as well, hence trouble getting an erection. 

Yet another way that alcohol impacts your erection is that it dehydrates you. This can lead to a lower blood volume and will reduce your overall blood circulation. Not only does poor circulation lower the odds of an erection — your blood volume will need to be thick enough to compress the veins that carry blood out of your penis; if it’s not heavy enough, it won’t be enough to trap the blood in your penis, and you won’t be able to achieve an erection. 

The last potential consequence of drinking alcohol is that it can release a hormone called angiotensin into your blood. This hormone is responsible for regulating your blood pressure and fluid balance by constricting blood vessels. In order to achieve an erection, you need your blood vessels to expand, and angiotensin has the opposite effect. 

Can You Prevent Whiskey Dick? 

Whiskey dick is 100% preventable as long as you are careful and know your alcohol limits. There is no specific drink threshold, as how much alcohol causes whiskey dick varies from person to person. However, you should be able to have a few drinks and be totally fine when it comes time to get down to business. 

When you're unable to get erect after drinking, that’s your body indicating that you drank too much and something is wrong. It’s unable to properly function at the moment and needs some time to process the alcohol in your system. 

You should only start to be concerned when you're experiencing whiskey dick even though you haven’t had anything to drink, or when it happens frequently with only a small amount of alcohol in your system. 

What Do You Do If You Get Whiskey Dick While Sober? 

Whiskey dick is just the slang term for erectile dysfunction caused by drinking too much alcohol. The occasional issue with getting a hard-on can happen from time to time, but erectile dysfunction is the name for when these issues become the norm.

Erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. Frequently it's a symptom of an underlying physical or psychological issue. 

If you're often experiencing difficulties achieving or maintaining an erection while sober, you may want to talk to a licensed medical professional about your options. Prescription medications are effective for most guys, and they're cheaper than ever (and easier to get) thanks to generics and online ordering platforms like Rex MD (if prescribed by your Rex MD clinician).

The Takeaway 

Whisky dick is a common side effect of drinking too much alcohol, and it can happen to any guy who consumes enough. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about and happens so frequently that this slang term exists. Learn from your mistakes and try to drink less next time. If you disappointed a partner or potential romanic partner, explain what happened and how common it is.

If you're starting to experience difficulties with getting an erection when you haven’t had any alcohol, however, it might be a sign of something more serious,

Get a free online consultation from Rex MD to find out if generic ED meds are right for you. Click here to get started



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Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors and alcohol abuse | PubMed