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Sex life and fertility

Drinking alcohol can increase your:

  • confidence with sexual partners
  • sexual desire

But it can have a bad effect on what happens in bed.

Alcohol can also cause long-term problems with sex and fertility.

How alcohol can affect sex and fertility

Problems with erections

Drinking large amounts of alcohol can make it hard to get or keep an erection. This is called erectile dysfunction (ED).

Alcohol interferes with the messengers in the brain that tell the penis to fill with blood.

It can also happen because alcohol can reduce the production of testosterone. Testosterone is the hormone that controls male sexual functions.

ED is normally a temporary problem.

Problems with orgasms

Alcohol interferes with your ability to feel sexual stimulation. It does this by interfering with the signals between the brain and the genitals.

After heavy drinking:

  • men may find it hard to ejaculate (come) or may ejaculate too quickly
  • women may find it harder to orgasm or their orgasms may feel less intense

Sex drive (libido)

Drinking heavily over a long period of time can lead to a lower sex drive (libido). This is because it reduces your levels of testosterone.

Shrinking of sex organs

High-risk drinking over a long time can cause a man’s testes and penis to shrink.

Fertility

Lowered testosterone can affect sperm production. This can reduce fertility.

Women who drink heavily for a long time may find they stop ovulating.

Even small amounts of alcohol can affect fertility.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and affects your judgement. This increases your chances of having unprotected sex. This puts you at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

page last reviewed: 08/11/2019
next review due: 08/11/2022

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