Alcohol and Sexuality

alcohol decreases sexual performance

Alcohol and Sex

Although many drugs lead to promiscuity, STDs, unwanted pregnancies, rape, low self esteem and shame, the chronic use of alcohol, while it might increase sexual desire, decreases the ability to perform. Alcohol and sexuality as a serious topic is not discussed as often as it should be discussed. There’s a joke about a woman who went to the doctor, and during the course of the examination and questioning the doctor found out that the woman had been married three times but was still a virgin. The doctor asked her how this could be, just out of curiosity. The woman said her first husband was in the military during a war and was called away for an emergency right after the marriage ceremony — he died in war before they could consummate the marriage. The second husband was a paraplegic whom she loved but he couldn’t have sex. The third husband, the woman said, was an alcoholic, and all he ever did was sit on the side of the bed, drunk, and tell her how good it was going to be.

Alcohol decreasing sexual performance and enjoyment is something joked about, and even Shakespeare addressed it in a play, but not discussed often as a serious problem for heavy drinkers and alcoholics. This is from AlcoholRehab.com:

Sexual dysfunction is a condition that is caused by many different factors. Emotional troubles such as stress can impede a persons’ ability to feel satisfaction and desire which can lead to problems in the bedroom. Medical problems like diabetes or hypertension can also affect sexual function, as can certain medications. Substance abuse, particularly alcoholism is known to be a factor for both men and women who are suffering from sexual dysfunction. Alcoholism is known to cause severe damage to the liver. A damaged liver can impact on the body’s ability to regulate hormone distribution. In males, this can cause testicular atrophy, impotence and sterility. Women alcoholics can suffer from ovarian functionality issues, menstrual abnormalities and changes to sexuality.

Alcohol increases sexual desire but inhibits sexual performance. Many people describe the dis-inhibiting properties of alcohol and how when under the influence of this substance they feel more sexual, more willing and have a stronger desire to seek out a sexual experience. In low doses, alcohol may help to alleviate some of the symptoms of anxiety about sexual performance and sexuality. However, when alcohol is chronically consumed over a long period, it can impact on a person’s sexual function. This can impact on both the person experiencing the dysfunction but also on the partner.

While before there was mostly good news about sexual performance improving in recovery, new research shows that this might not be true in many cases. According to Science Daily a study published by the Journal of Sexual Medicine:

The researchers examined and evaluated four areas of sexual performance: sexual desire, sexual satisfaction, sexual arousal and orgasm. The study revealed that the study group had a moderately to significantly impaired sexual performance as compared to controls.

Additionally, the researchers separately examined the effects of the different substances on sexuality. For instance, speedball and cocaine abuse most frequently affect sexual pleasure, while they slightly affect sexual desire. Cocaine users have very high sexual desire during peak periods of drug abuse.

Alcohol is the drug which most affects sexual arousal (erectile capacity). This is the first study to reveal the permanent effect of substance abuse on sexuality, even after long abstinence periods. Finally, orgasms are prevailingly impaired by heroin, cocaine, alcohol and speedball.

This is just another good reason to seek help if you have an alcohol or other drug problem. We don’t like to discuss sex, but it’s an important part of relationships and our sense of who we are.