Alcohol and impotence

Male impotence or erectile dysfunction is a condition in which a man will not experience an erection sufficient enough to complete the sex act or attain orgasm.  This is not to be confused with a lack of libido, which is the desire to have sex.  One factor which affects erectile dysfunction and is controllable is alcohol intake.

Health experts from around the world agree that small amounts of alcohol, in particular red wine which has been studied, is good for overall health and in particular cardiac health.  Consumed in moderate amounts, alcohol can relieve sexual inhibitions, intensify libido and temporarily enhanced feelings of well-being and increase self-esteem.  However overconsumption will gradually suppress those moments of euphoria and lead to alcohol impotence.

Most men are familiar with the term "brewer's droop" which is a temporary form of alcohol impotence that occurs when the average drinker has one too many.  However, this is a short-term condition that will generally correct itself in a relatively brief period of time.  Extended alcohol abuse however, can harm the nervous system and therefore lead to long-term impotence.

Long-term alcohol abuse affects the nervous system and suppresses the impulses between the brain's pituitary glands and the genitals.  Because an erection requires a complex coordinated effort between the arterial system, the muscular system and the nervous system any breakdown in communication will result in impotence.  Clinical studies have shown that prolonged alcohol abuse causes irreversible damage to the nerves in the penis which result in alcohol impotence.

Excessive drinking will also result in behavioral changes that reduces sexual desire or libido and inhibit sexual performance.  Individuals will find that with increased drinking their concentration and judgment becomes cloudy and physical activity and movement impaired.

Alcoholism or excessive intake of alcohol, will also disrupt hormone levels.  Particular hormones which are disrupted are testosterone and estrogen, which diminish sex drive and function.  Researchers have found that individuals often cite depression, stress and anxiety as reasons for excessive drinking.  But these are the same psychological factors that lead to causes of impotence.

Several case studies have shown that long-term alcohol abuse which causes alcohol impotence in men will not reverse even after years of sobriety.  Apart from the permanent damage caused to the nervous system some researchers believe that the associated decline in physical and psychological health also contribute to alcohol impotence.  Alcoholics are also associated with other negative health factors such as smoking, over eating leading to obesity, lack of exercise and drug abuse.  All of these health concerns will also lead to erectile dysfunction.

Interestingly, a Harvard study of nearly 2000 men found that those who abstained from drinking alcohol or who were heavy drinkers, were the most likely to become impotent and suffer erectile dysfunction.  The men who were least likely were those who consumed a moderate amount of alcohol.  These findings have been consistent with other studies which show that people who have one or two drinks a day have lower cholesterol and therefore better blood flow.  And because good circulation to the genital area is essential for male sexual performance and restricted blood flow is a cause of impotence in men and women these findings appear to fit other healthcare models. (1)

The good news for men who suffer from impotence because of alcohol abuse is that treatments are available for this specific situation.  The first step is to admit that there is a problem with alcohol or alcohol impotence and seek help from a qualified medical professional.  If the abuse has caused vascular damage then injections may be a way to help treat the problem.  Physicians also have options available for those men who have suffered permanent nerve damage.

(1) Journal of American Medical Association Internal Medicine: Prospective Study of Moderate Alcohol Consumption and Mortality in US Male Physicians


Indian Journal of Psychiatry: Prevalence of Sexual Dysfunction in Male Subjects with alcohol dependence

University of Illinois: Erectile Dysfunction Fact Sheet

MedScape Today: Alcohol Consumption and Erectile Dysfunction

Urologia: Erectile Dysfunction and Alcohol Intake

Better Health Channel: Erectile Dysfunction

British Medical Journal: Update on Male Erectile Dysfunction
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