It's the oldest of consumed concoctions – going back as far as 9,000 years with a beverage made of fermented rice. It’s a stress reliever, aphrodisiac, sterilizing agent, preservative, and ice breaker at parties. Yes, I’m talking about alcohol. And what a storied relationship it has had with us through the last several thousand years.
But let’s get down to the nitty gritty. How does alcohol affect sex and erections? Does it enhance or inhibit sex? The answer is that it does both. Having a drink or two can relieve stress and anxiety and make it easier to cold start a conversation. In this sense it can enhance sex drive and motivation, basically by peeling away the everyday stress that keeps the libido under wraps. And as alcohol weakens your conversation filters, you may end up saying things that you really feel without even realizing it.
But alcohol is also a depressant and a sedative and acts like an anesthetic. It numbs things up pretty good. Before the development of the first true anesthesia in 1846 at Massachusetts General Hospital, surgeons routinely relied on alcohol and bullet-biting to carry out operations. Drink enough of it and alcohol can numb sensation to the penis to the point that it can be hard to get and maintain an erection. Not only that, orgasm is harder to reach and is often blunted.
Literally over the same couple of hours, alcohol can both boost sexual motivation and flatten your performance. It’s a fine line to walk. And, of course, sexual performance isn’t the only thing to consider as you’re deciding whether or not to order a cocktail. If you have trouble controlling your consumption or if you’re going to be driving, consider skipping the liquid courage and take heart knowing that your erection and sex will be the better for it.