The Best Alcohol For Erectile Dysfunction?

Alcohol can induce temporary erectile dysfunction (ED) and increase your risk of developing long-term ED. However, there are mixed messages about which types of alcohol cause ED and how much alcohol one can drink without triggering sexual functioning issues.

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Is alcohol good for erectile dysfunction?

Many people believe that alcohol is beneficial for ED. To some extent, that may be true, as low to moderate amounts can increase your confidence and lower your inhibitions, which may relieve ED triggered by social or sexual anxiety.

So, how much alcohol is considered safe and effective for ED? According to the SMSNA for Patients, drinking light to moderate amounts of alcohol may reduce your risk of ED.¹

However, chronic or regular heavy drinking of more than 30 standard drinks per week over a long period will likely negatively impact your erectile functioning and cause other health problems linked to long-term excessive alcohol intake. 

High amounts of alcohol can cause high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke, and disorders affecting the heart muscle.  These are all risk factors for ED, as achieving an erection requires increased blood flow and blood pressure in the penis. Anything that damages the blood vessels could therefore affect this process.

How does alcohol help erectile dysfunction? 

Research shows that ongoing alcohol use induces sexual dysfunction — including low sexual desire and ED.²

The exact mechanism of how excess alcohol intake induces ED is somewhat unclear, with some researchers suggesting it could be due to abnormal testosterone levels or alcohol’s effect on the corpus cavernosum muscle in the penis.³

Alcohol does not necessarily help erectile dysfunction, and it’s best to speak to a healthcare professional to discuss ED treatment options. 

Can alcohol be used to treat erectile dysfunction?

People once believed the only types of alcohol that could benefit health were wine and dark beer because they contain a type of antioxidant called polyphenols.⁴

If you drink alcohol and experience ED, speak with your healthcare provider. They may advise you to reduce your alcohol consumption. According to the CDC, moderate drinking levels should be two standard drinks or fewer per day for men.⁵

However, you may want to decrease this to one or even abstain from alcohol if you believe your alcohol consumption is causing ED or other health issues. A standard drink includes: 

  • 5oz of wine (12% alcohol content), red or white

  • 12oz of beer or cider (5% alcohol content)

  • 1.5oz of spirits (40% alcohol content)

Can alcohol cause erectile dysfunction?

Alcohol can contribute to ED in two ways.

1. Alcohol-related erectile dysfunction

Alcohol-related erectile dysfunction, or alcohol-induced ED, is when excessive drinking causes temporary ED symptoms. 

Some men use alcohol to lower their inhibitions and increase their arousal when out socializing; however, they often take it too far, drink too much, and then struggle to get or keep an erection during sex. The good news is that ED symptoms linked to alcohol typically go away when you sober up. 

2. ED caused by chronic excessive alcohol consumption

If you drink alcohol in excess daily or weekly, drinking three or more standard drinks per day, or 30 or more standard drinks per week, you may be putting yourself at risk of developing long-term ED. 

Excessive alcohol consumption over time causes damage to your blood vessels, affecting the blood flow to your penis (as well as many other health problems). Without proper blood flow to your penis, you will struggle to achieve and maintain an erection. 

It’s common to think that you are safe if you only drink excessively on a Friday and Saturday night, but binge drinking (five or more drinks per sitting for men and four or more for women) can have the same impact as 30 standard drinks spread over the week. 

Why does alcohol-induced ED happen?

There are a few ways alcohol can affect your ability to achieve an erection:

  • Alcohol is a depressant. It slows down the signals between your brain and body, something you have probably experienced if you’ve ever been drunk. This effect can slow the signals between the brain and the penis, meaning that sexual excitement in the brain may not lead to the physical processes required to get an erection.

  • Alcohol dehydrates you. It is a diuretic, which means it increases the amount of water in your urine and makes you urinate more frequently. This causes a decrease in your total body water, including the water in your blood. Less water in your bloodstream reduces your blood pressure. Erections are produced by an increase in blood flow to the penis, so a decrease in your blood pressure may affect your ability to achieve or maintain an erection. 

Who is affected by alcohol-induced ED?

Alcohol-induced ED can affect any man who drinks excessive amounts of alcohol. Depending on your individual tolerance to alcohol, the number of standard drinks you can consume before you experience alcohol-induced ED may vary. 

Regardless of whether you drink every week or on special occasions, if you drink too much at any one time, you may experience alcohol-related ED. 

As the symptoms of alcohol-induced ED are linked to dehydration, men who were dehydrated before they started drinking may find themselves more affected than those who were hydrated. 

It’s essential to note that if you experience alcohol-induced ED regularly, it may be an indication that you are drinking in excess too often. This could put you at risk of developing long-term ED, where the effects won’t wear off when you sober up. 

Managing alcohol-related erectile dysfunction 

If alcohol-related erectile dysfunction is something you’ve struggled with in the past, you need to be mindful of how much you drink on any occasion if you want to be able to perform sexually. Some strategies include:

  • Not drinking excessive amounts, pacing yourself, and drinking responsibly

  • Making sure you’re hydrated before you start drinking

  • Drinking water while drinking alcohol to avoid dehydration

  • Abstaining from drinking alcohol

Some men try to manage alcohol-related ED by taking medications designed to treat ED symptoms.

These medications commonly include PDE-5 inhibitors — a class of drugs that includes Viagra as well as Levitra, Staxyn, Cialis, and Stendra. It is important to note that alcohol consumption is not recommended when taking any of these medications, as alcohol can counteract the effect of the drug or make the side effects much worse. 

Side effects may include headaches, facial flushing, and severe chest discomfort. 

Always take medications as directed on the label and consult your doctor before taking any medications. In general, you should avoid alcohol if you are taking PDE-5 inhibitors. 

How to prevent alcohol-related erectile dysfunction 

The simplest way to prevent alcohol-related erectile dysfunction is to avoid binge drinking or drinking excessively. Drinking responsibly and limiting your alcohol intake is also essential for your overall physical, mental, and social health, so it won’t just have positive effects in the bedroom.

When to see a doctor

If you’re struggling with ED, alcohol is not the answer. While it may help you deal with psychological causes of ED, such as confidence issues, the risks outweigh the benefits. 

If you don’t drink alcohol, this article is not suggesting you take up drinking alcohol to improve your erectile functioning, and there’s no evidence suggesting alcohol is the most effective treatment for ED.

Regardless of your relationship with alcohol, there are safer and more effective methods for dealing with ED. Speak with your doctor about medications, therapies, and positive lifestyle changes to help you effectively manage your ED. 

If you believe your ED may be linked to your drinking habits and you’re unable to cut back on your own, your doctor can guide you and connect you with organizations that specialize in alcohol-related issues. 

The lowdown

Depending on how much you drink, alcohol could be helpful or harmful to erectile dysfunction. However, alcohol has minimal usefulness in treating ED. It’s likely that alcohol, when consumed in moderate amounts, only has the potential to help you manage the psychological causes of the condition, not the physical ones. 

On the other hand, binge drinking or chronic consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol on any specific occasion is unsafe and can lead to the development of alcohol-induced ED. This condition is quite common in men after a big night but may be an indication of an unhealthy lifestyle if it happens repeatedly. 

Alcohol has many adverse health effects on the body and can significantly affect your mental and social well-being. If you drink alcohol and are concerned about the impact drinking has on your life, speak with your doctor.

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