Dear Dr. G,

I am curious about certain gender differences when it comes to alcohol and sex, and I am hoping that Dr. G can shed some light on the matter.

My husband and I are in our mid-thirties and always enjoy a little indulgence in life, such as booze and sex. With regards to booze, I often find that drinking a bit of alcohol gets me loosened up and in the mood for action in the bedroom. As such, I really enjoy a glass or two of red wine before lovemaking.

Having said that, I find that alcohol has a very different effect on my husband as it delays his ability to ejaculate and on many occasions this has led to a loss of stamina and has diminished the rigidity of his erection, which has caused a great deal of frustration for both of us.

I am hoping to put Dr G on the spot for his advice on mixing alcohol and sex; what exactly is the physiological impact of alcohol on sex and are there gender differences when it comes to alcohol and sex? Does alcohol really enhance arousal and sexual performance?

Surely, a modest mixture of spirits and sex are a cocktail of love and not a recipe for disaster?

Alcohol Annie

Alcohol is known to be able to loosen up the tension between lovers, heightening the arousal and reducing inhibitions in the bedroom. As such, the implication that alcohol works like a magic potion for lovemaking has been around for many generations – a point repeated often in pop culture.

However, the less obvious observation is the different effects of alcohol in men and women as the disparity can both help and hinder sexual performance

For women, a drink or two can have an impact on the brain as ethanol is known to enhance testosterone levels in women, and this in turn can increase libido and heighten desire. However, the threshold of alcohol and arousal is variable and differs depending on the state of mind and alcohol tolerance of the individual.

However, excessive levels of alcohol in women can have a physiological, cognitive and behavioural impact that can cause alcohol-induced orgasmic dysfunction.

On the other hand, the impact of alcohol on male sexual function is less straightforward, with the impairment of erectile rigidity being well known. Alcohol is known to increase the release of angiotensin, which is a hormone associated with a decrease in blood supply to the penis, leading to erectile dysfunction. Moreover, the long-term impact of alcohol is also well studied; the regular, excessive consumption of alcohol can also lead to liver impairment, hormonal imbalance and central nervous system damage that will bring about a wilting manhood.

Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption is also known to delay the interval of ejaculation, with a Mayo Clinic study demonstrating that alcohol can prolong the ejaculation interval by more than 30 minutes. Of course, this may be beneficial for men who have to deal with premature ejaculation, but this prolonged orgasm may lead to a man losing their stamina and ability to sustain an erection.

Finally, it is true alcohol has the impact of creating “beer goggles” – a situation where everyone just looks more attractive when the lover is under the heavy influence of alcohol. A 2014 study confirmed that alcohol makes people appear more attractive, particularly those who weren’t perceived attractive to start off with. In fact, even male fruit flies seem to get less picky about the potential mating partners when influenced by alcohol!

The American singer, Frank Sinatra is well known to depict the relationship of men and alcohol when he says that “alcohol may be man’s worse enemy, but the Bible says love your enemy”.

On one hand, alcohol is linked to greater risk-taking sexual behavior for both men and women due to its relaxing effect and ability to help lower inhibitions, enhance self-confidence and reduce tension. However, on the other hand too much may not guarantee a positive outcome.

Dr. G is often put on the spot when it comes to the gender differences in mixing booze with sex. His view is “Alcohol may be a man’s worse enemy, but moderation is the always the spirit that will help men to love his enemy!”

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