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How does drinking alcohol affect my ability to have an erection?

A couple of drinks can loosen inhibitions, allowing people to explore their sexuality in a relaxed manner. However, alcohol can also impair sexual functioning. Alcohol is a depressant. It works on the nervous system by slowing down brain function, breathing and pulse. The effect is often psychologically stimulating, since emotions and desires flow more freely. However, while alcohol may boost sexual desire by helping a person to relax, it can decrease performance, especially where erections are concerned.

During a typical erection, blood flows to the penis where more of it stays in than is released. Alcohol works to dilate blood vessels in the body, including in the penis. As a result, blood vessels in the penis stay open, blood flows out and the penis does not become rigid or achieves some degree of hardness but has difficulty staying firm. Limit alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks (or none at all) for optimal sexual function. Alcohol consumption that regularly interferes with sexual function may be a sign of a problem; counseling or therapy may be useful.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.