Drinking can be a crucial part of many people’s sex lives, especially men. It’s understandable, really—it’s an inexpensive, easily accessible way to loosen up and relax. Just about any restaurant will serve alcohol of some sort, be it beer, wine, or something with a little more kick. A good bartender can make anyone’s day.
Conversations are much more enjoyable if you are relaxed, which only takes about 5-10 minutes after swallowing an alcoholic beverage. This is a go-to first date for many people, to ease nerves and allow them to get to know the person and work up to what may be a very intimate experience later on.
However, depending on your tolerance level and how much you consume, there are some serious pros and cons. Some could say it is both a poison and a cure. Whether you are a social drinker or drowning your sorrows in a six-pack every night, knowing what effects you could see on your sex life can be useful.
The Positive Impacts Alcohol Can Have
Anyone who’s ever drunk at all knows the effects even a little bit of alcohol can have on your mental state. Depending on how much you have, it can affect your nervous system and can make you feel, think, and act differently than you might when sober.
Many people have better discussions over drinks, and feel much more confident in themselves and what they have to say than they would otherwise. Also, flirting with an attractive person seems a little easier, which alone can greatly benefit your sex life in the short term.
Anthropologist Helen Fisher always recommends drinks over dinner for a first date;
“By having a mixed drink, you’re going to be more social, more talkative, and showing more of who you are,” Fisher says, “Not only does drinking provide social lubrication, it also sets up a high potential for bonding.”
Not only can alcohol help you open up mentally and emotionally, but it can also give you a physical boost as well if used properly.
Dr. Kat Van Kirk, a clinical sexologist, talks about the many physical benefits drinking a pint or two of dark beer can have on men’s performance in her book on married sex. Darker beers, in particular, are higher in iron and even have things like vitamin B, minerals, and probiotics.
“This means it can help fortify your overall health and be better on your stomach so you won’t feel sluggish during sex,” says Kirk, “The beer ultimately overloads one’s body with phytoestrogens from the alcohol, which are scientifically proven to delay orgasm.”
The short of it is, alcohol will get the blood flowing—and we all know where the blood flows to when you’re aroused.
The Negative Impacts Alcohol Can Have
Now, before you start thinking a couple of beers or a glass of wine is your magical fix-all to your sex life, let’s talk about the downsides. The first, and most obvious, is over-drinking. This will give you the opposite of what you are looking for, especially for men. Erectile dysfunction is a frequent and very common side effect of drinking too much alcohol.
“The U.S. Preventative Task Force recommends one drink per day for a woman or two drinks per day for a man, although recent evidence suggests it should be one drink per day for everybody, even for men,” said Alёna A. Balasanova, director of Addiction Psychiatry Education at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, “If you drink outside of those limits, you are engaging in risky drinking or hazardous drinking.”
Drinking too much, too often, has a slew of health risks. The well-known “beer gut” is a real problem, and it’s more than just about weight. Drinking in excess can cause inflammation of the small intestine, leading to serious health problems down the road.
Weight gain due to drinking too much is another negative. Good sex is generally very physically taxing for both parties, and no one wants a partner that is out of shape and can’t last very long. A good rule of thumb — if you can look down and see your penis, you’re probably doing okay.
What To Do If Drinking is Damaging Your Sex Life
If you’re a frequent drinker, you may have already started to see the effects it has on your body. Thankfully, it’s not permanent, and a simple diet change is all you need to get back on track. Whether it’s weight gain, trouble performing in the bedroom, or something else, cutting back on beer, whiskey, and other dense, high-calorie drinks can make a big difference.
Note that you don’t need to cut alcohol out completely. Just be aware that the more you drink, the more it will impact your body, and you’ll need to carefully weigh the pros and cons to determine if it’s worth it. There are also lighter, more health-savvy types of alcohol like Gin or Vodka that might be a good substitute. You can also mix these drinks with low-calorie or light juices, teas, etc. to dilute them further.
Gin and Vodka do, however, have a significantly higher alcohol percentage than something like beer or wine, so be mindful of how much you’re putting in your body. A little bit of experimenting may need to be done to figure out what works for you. There is a sweet spot where you feel relaxed, your libido is high, the blood is pumping, and you’re not going to worry about your “little friend” letting you down mid-performance.
If you notice it takes more than usual to feel intoxicated, you may have been drinking too much too often. Sometimes, the best thing to do in this case is to stop cold turkey, just for a little while, and give your metabolism a bit of a reboot. Just be careful if you’ve gone 3-6 months without drinking, as that first one will likely hit you like a freight train.
If you don’t drink alcohol, it may not be worth starting because of the possible positive effects. However, if you drink in moderation and are reasonably healthy, you are fine to continue to do so. If you have any doubts or hesitation, you can always speak with your doctor about what’s best for you.