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Does alcohol affect male erectile function?

Since ancient times in China, there is the saying that wine can help sex, wine can mess up sex, where the “Xing” and “sex” refers to the excitement and heart, but now we usually associate them with sex between men and women and become the wine can help “sex”. Is this true in practice, or is it a falsehood?

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine believes that wine has the effect of opening the blood vessels, protecting the cold, moving the potential of medicine and detoxifying the toxins, and can unblock the meridians, move the qi and blood, and warm the yang to disperse the knots. 

From these effects, drinking wine does not enhance male sexual function, but wine has the effect of helping to move the medicinal power, and when it is made together with herbal medicines for impotence, it has the effect of helping “sex”. In addition, the erection of the penis requires the filling of qi and blood, the effect of wine through the meridians and blood flow indirectly is also conducive to the erection of the penis.

The fact is that you can get a lot more than just a couple of days to get a lot more than just a couple of days. In the long term, excessive drinking makes dampness and heat inside, blocking the qi and blood, but will cause a series of health problems, resulting in defeat “sex”. 

Shandong Province, a survey of 3991 male erectile functions found that drinking less than 100ml per week, ED (erectile dysfunction) prevalence rate of 25%, drinking 100-250ml ED prevalence rate of 28.5%, drinking more than 250ml ED prevalence rate of 32.4%, the prevalence of ED for men who do not drink 25.97%, thus It is easy to see that the incidence of ED in patients who drink a small amount of alcohol does not increase, but with the increase in the amount of alcohol consumed, the probability of ED is also increasing.

Western medicine

From a Western medical perspective, the main components of alcohol are water and alcohol. The pharmacological effects of alcohol on the human body can be divided into four phases: haze, excitement, anesthesia, and respiratory anesthesia.

When the amount of alcohol intake maintains the haze and excitement, alcohol stimulates the brain in a state of excitement and relaxes the control of the brain on sexual behavior, thus playing a certain role in helping “sex”. 
But with the increase in intake, into the narcotic period, the nerves are inhibited, the libido is reduced, not only can not help “sex”, but defeat “sex”. And it is important to note that this “help” of alcohol does not really improve sexual function, but only releases the control of the brain on the sexual impulse.

An Australian scholar had 11 young healthy men after drinking alcohol night erection measurement experiment, the experiment lasted 3 days, and in the evening of the third day to make the blood alcohol concentration of 0.154g/100ml.

The results found that the erection after the size, time, number, and hardness of no significant change, but the subjects sober but have sexual behavior inhibition performance, which indicates that short-term heavy drinking although not on the control of erection This suggests that although short-term heavy drinking does not harm the nerves that control erection, it may reduce the ability to perceive and recognize sexuality and cause sexual inhibition.

Excessive alcohol consumption

Drinking alcohol does not simply reduce male sexual desire, sexual perception, and recognition. Long-term excessive alcohol consumption can cause a series of changes in the body’s tissues and internal environment, which can lead to erectile dysfunction in men.

A domestic survey found that the incidence of ED in men with less than 10 years of drinking is 29.3%, the incidence of 10-20 years is 30.7%, the incidence of more than 20 years is 42.5%, the incidence of non-drinkers is 30%, and according to the survey.

The factors affecting the occurrence of ED, drinking (white wine > 25g / day or beer > 100ml / day or red wine > 50ml / day) ED Patients than 5 years ago increased by more than 10%, which indicates that the proportion of ED suffered by alcohol drinkers is increasing year by year, drinking alcohol is one of the factors that cause ED in men.

How exactly does excessive alcohol affect male erectile function?

The physiological process of male erection is complex and requires the participation of nerves, hormones, and various active substances. Therefore, the mechanism by which excessive alcohol consumption affects the erectile function is also very complex, and current research suggests that it may be related to the following factors

1. Reducing the level of testosterone, the male marker hormone

Testosterone is an important androgen for normal male sexual function and is a necessity and stimulant for erection. Alcohol can paralyze the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis system that promotes its secretion, not allowing its instructions to be issued and making the testosterone content drop.

The liver is the crematorium of many hormones, and the hormone is inactivated by its action. Alcohol can stimulate the liver to accelerate the breakdown of testosterone by the liver, making the amount of testosterone in the body drop and causing erectile dysfunction.

2. Affect the pillar of penile erection – penile corpus cavernosum

The cavernous body of the penis is the pillar that maintains the erection of the penis and is an important tissue that supports the erection of the penis. A domestic physician experimented on 30 male rats. 

After 3 months of gavage with alcohol to these rats, it was found that the number of erections in the 40% alcohol dose decreased significantly, and the hardness was also insufficient. Also, the amount of testosterone in the 20% and 40% alcohol doses was significantly lower. 

The decrease in testosterone caused changes and destruction of the tissue structure of the penile corpus cavernosum, resulting in a decrease in the amount of smooth muscle and an increase in fibrous tissue in the penile corpus cavernosum. 

This is like blowing up a balloon; smooth muscle is the tissue that ensures a good elasticity of the balloon to inflate, while fibrous tissue is the part that decreases the elasticity of the balloon.

Now that there is more of this part (fibrous tissue) that reduces the elasticity of the balloon, the ability of the penis to get an erection naturally decreases. In addition, alcohol can also paralyze the nerves that innervate the cavernous body of the penis, causing the cavernous body of the penis to be undersupplied with nutrients, resulting in atrophy of the cavernous body.

3. Reduce the production of NO, the active substance that induces the diastole of penile blood vessels and smooth muscles

The nerves that control penile erection are excited by sexual stimulation and release a substance called acetylcholine, which stimulates endothelial cells to release NO (nitric oxide), and then NO causes erection through the role of diastolic penile blood vessels and smooth muscle of penile corpus cavernosum.

But acetylcholine, is a substance that requires its synthesis enzyme activation to function, and when there is a problem with this link, the erection will also be affected. Studies have found that testosterone has a role in maintaining the structure and function of the central and peripheral nervous systems. 

12 weeks after castration of rats, because there is no testicular secretion of testosterone, these nerves are damaged, resulting in a decrease in the synthetase activity of acetylcholine up to 30%, directly affecting the activity of acetylcholine, so that ON release is reduced, resulting in erectile dysfunction.

4. Other effects

For example, alcohol can affect dopamine, which is a substance that can increase blood pressure, and its reduction may cause a decrease in blood pressure in the penile area and lead to erectile difficulties, etc. Because the erection mechanism is complex, the mechanism of alcohol’s effect on it is also complex and diverse, and further research is needed in the future.

The above changes, such as the decrease in testosterone content, the destruction of the structure of the penile corpus cavernosum, and the reduction of ON release can be restored after stopping alcohol consumption and supplementing testosterone therapy for some time, and the commonly used kidney tonics in Chinese medicine such as Epimedium, Serpentine, Wolfberry, etc. also have the effect of increasing androgen levels.

This shows that drinking alcohol in moderation only amplifies the stimulation of the senses, relieves tension and anxiety, and makes it easier to get an erection, which creates the illusion of “sex” and has no therapeutic effect on impotent patients. 

It seems that the powerful effect of drinking alcohol to help “sex” only exists in people’s good expectations, and also comes with certain health risks. So for the sake of “sex life”, is it not possible to drink alcohol at all? That’s not necessarily true.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that the average daily intake of alcohol should be no more than 2 drinking units for men and 1 drinking unit for women, which is still an acceptable range for the human body. The so-called 1 drinking unit refers to about 18 milliliters of alcohol, which can be converted to ordinary wine, as long as it does not exceed the standard in the chart below.

Drinking time

After two o’clock in the afternoon is appropriate, the concentration of alcohol dehydrogenase in the stomach to break down alcohol in the morning is low, and it is easier to make the blood alcohol concentration rise and cause harm to the organs. In addition, it is not advisable to drink alcohol on an empty stomach, before going to bed, when you have a cold and when you are emotionally excited, so as not to cause adverse reactions.

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