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Can alcohol cause erectile dysfunction?

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

The short answer is: Yes, alcohol can cause erectile dysfunction. Excessive alcohol consumption can impair nerve function, decrease testosterone levels, and affect blood flow to the penis, which all contribute to ED. But limiting your alcohol intake usually sees the condition improve.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when a man can’t get or keep an erection firm enough for sex. This problem is common and affects millions of men around the world. It happens more often as you get older, but it can happen when you’re young too because of stress, health problems, or certain lifestyle choices.

If you drink alcohol fairly regularly and are dealing with ED, it’s normal to wonder if your drinking habits are the main cause. It’s important to note before we go further that drinking in moderation is usually okay, and won’t cause any issues – except a bad hangover.

Can alcohol cause ED?

Yes, alcohol can cause erectile dysfunction. The effects of alcohol on the body, particularly on the nervous system, blood flow, and hormone levels, can interfere with your ability to achieve and maintain an erection.

When you drink alcohol, it depresses the central nervous system. This can slow down the brain’s ability to send signals to the body, including those needed for sexual arousal and erection. Alcohol can also reduce blood flow to the penis by causing blood vessels to constrict.

The impact of alcohol depends on how much you drink. Moderate drinking (up to two drinks per day for men) usually does not cause ED. In fact, some studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption might help heart health.

However, heavy drinking (more than four drinks a day), binge drinking, or chronic heavy drinking (alcoholism) can lead to long-term damage to the blood vessels and nerves involved in erectile function, as well as hormonal imbalances that can further contribute to ED.

Frequently asked questions about erectile dysfunction

Does alcohol help ED?

Alcohol can worsen erectile dysfunction by affecting nerve signals and blood flow, hindering sexual performance. Drinking less may improve your symptoms.

How much alcohol causes erectile dysfunction?

The amount of alcohol that can cause erectile dysfunction varies, but heavy drinking (more than four drinks per day for men) increases the risk due to its negative impact on nerve function, blood flow, and hormone levels.

Can I get erectile dysfunction after quitting alcohol?

Yes, it’s possible to develop erectile dysfunction after quitting alcohol. Stopping abruptly can disrupt your hormone levels and nervous system function, which may temporarily stop you from getting an erection. However, as the body adjusts and heals, these effects will usually reverse.

A man sits on the edge of the bed with his hands on the outside of his jeans in his genital area due to erectile dysfunction, while his girlfriend sits in the background looking upset with the situation.

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