For centuries, people have used alcohol to stimulate their sex drive. In moderate quantities, it can reduce anxiety and release us from social inhibitions. However, alcohol is a sedative, and after more than one or two drinks, the body begins to feel its effects and performance can suffer. Scientific studies reveal that alcohol generally enhances psychological arousal but inhibits physiological arousal.
From a psychological perspective, alcohol can act as a sexual aid by inducing feelings of calm and relaxation. When we're less anxious, we're also more likely to be in the mood for sex. Moreover, drinking triggers learned expectations: we expect alcohol to make us more amorous, and therefore it does. As people's blood alcohol levels increase, so does their self-reported arousal-at the same time as their physical ability to enjoy sex is declining.
From a physiological perspective, consuming one to two drinks may have a slightly positive impact on sexual fitness, but more than that will only do you harm. As you begin to ingest alcohol, your body increases its production of dopamine, the neurotransmitter most closely linked to libido and sexual enjoyment. You may therefore experience a sexual boost after one or two drinks. Also, alcohol acts as a vasodilator, increasing blood flow throughout the body. So having a couple of drinks may actually enhance erections and vaginal arousal.
As your level of intoxication increases, however, alcohol begins to interfere with arousal and orgasm. Sex hormone levels decline, which can interfere with libido and performance. With every additional drink, men have more and more difficulty maintaining an erection and ejaculating. One study found that it took men significantly more time to reach orgasm after three to four drinks than when they were sober, and after heavy alcohol consumption many subjects were unable to ejaculate at all. Female sexual performance also suffers. Vaginal blood flow, lubrication, and orgasmic intensity are all impaired after just a few drinks. One study revealed that the time it took women to reach orgasm while masturbating increased each time their blood alcohol levels rose.With no alcohol it took them an average of about six minutes to climax, but after consuming four to five drinks, the average time to reach orgasm was about fourteen minutes.
Alcoholism causes permanent damage to sexual fitness. It reduces testosterone levels, which results in loss of desire for both men and women. And it damages the nervous system, thereby interfering with sexual response and pleasure. There is a high rate of erectile dysfunction among male alcoholics. Female alcoholics typically suffer from abnormal menstruation and infertility.
On the whole, heavy alcohol consumption (4 or more drinks per day) can be devastating to your sexual health. Light (0 to 2 drinks per day) alcohol consumption may have some benefits, but this requires maintaining control and not overdoing it. In order to optimize your sexual fitness, you should drink no more than one to two glasses of alcohol a day on a regular basis.