Does alcohol enhance sexual performance?

    A few months ago, I was at a social gathering enjoying drinks with my friends. All of a sudden, someone raised a question if alcohol consumption enhanced sexual performance? I looked at my friend, paused, then mentioned that alcohol stimulated sexual desire but it didn’t improve one’s performance. A general discussion ensued, followed by sexual anecdotes.

    One thing was sure. The question raised was not something new. Four hundred years ago, when William Shakespeare wrote Macbeth, he attributed this statement on alcohol consumption to one of his characters – a sly porter – “… it provokes, and unprovokes; it provokes the desire, but takes away the performance.”

    Let’s look at both sides of the coin here.

      Alcohol provokes the desire

    Alcohol, consumed in moderation may relax a person, loosening his/her inhibition(s) in a social get-together, initiating new contacts, or conversing on a topic he/she felt uncomfortable about, overcome shyness, or even in bed with a spouse, partner, or with a one-night stand friend, able to discuss the way he/she wants to have a good time or fulfill any sexual fantasy. Here, a moderate alcohol consumption may even act as an aphrodisiac. As one survey in Psychology Today revealed that alcohol consumption “greatly or somewhat improved” sexual enjoyment for 45% of men and 68% of women respondents.

    What do we mean by moderate consumption? A blood alcohol consumption level (BAC) of less than 0.05 for men and 0.04 for women. A 150-lbs man with three drinks within two hours can reach, or even exceed BAC level of 0.05 – depending on his body metabolism, and the type of food he is eating.

      Alcohol takes away the performance

    An excessive consumption of alcohol, on the other hand, not only causes dehydration in the body but also depresses the central nervous system. A person may fall asleep, not a restful sleep but with frequent awakenings, headaches, nightmares, etc. The dehydration, in turn, may cause a drop in blood levels of testosterone – a hormone that ignites male libido. Since major biological activities and functions of a body utilize water molecules (especially its oxygen component), any drop and/or restricted flow of blood caused by dehydration is bad. And, when the circulation of blood is poor in vital genitals of a man and a woman, they are going to be deprived of all the sexual fun. What fun can a man have with his limply or flaccid penis? Or a woman with her dry vagina?

    Also dehydration increases the hormone – angiotensin – that’s associated with erectile dysfunction (ED).

    Some studies have shown that excessive consumption of alcohol (or higher BACs) may delay or prevent men’s ejaculation and women’s ability to reach orgasm; for example, men with BAC of 0.09 may have problem with ejaculation.

    Studies have also shown that men with chronic drinking problem may not only lose testosterone but also gain more estrogen – a female’s hormone. Women, on the other hand, may lose interest in sex, may find it hard to reach orgasm.

      Alcohol affects women more than men

    Because of their lower weight and lesser water content in their body; the latter implies that it takes women longer to dilute or ingest the alcohol’s effect.

      In conclusion:

First, avoid alcohol consumption four to six hours before bedtime.
Second, after two stiff drinks, take the third as a glass of cold/chilled water to dilute the consumed alcohol.
Third, if any sexual interlude is on the agenda for the evening, stick with moderate drinking, or completely abstain; you will be glad you did it.

The contents of this note rely heavily on the following two sources:

1. Petra Zebroff’s article in The Huffington Post, 01/07/2013;
2. Bechtel, Stefan, The Practical Encyclopedia of Sex and Health, Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pennsylvania, 1993.

Tags Sex, Alcohol consumption, Erectile dysfunction, Testosterone, Estrogen, Angiotensin

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