With the festive season well and truly over, Brits are turning to ‘Dry January’ as a healthy way to counterbalance the overindulgence typical of the holiday season – and it may improve your sex life too.
Many people buy into the idea that drinks set the mood for romance, but cutting back on alcoholic beverages can actually enhance your sexual function and performance.
Research physician Dr Liz Jeffery, from Mac Clinical Research, has detailed the link between excessive drinking and erectile dysfunction (ED).
She said: “What’s unknown to many is a certain unwelcome effect of drinking. Excessive consumption around the holidays can lead to sexual health problems for men.”
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Why does excessive drinking lead to ED?
Drinking large amounts of alcohol can make it difficult to maintain and sustain an erection, and there are several reasons why this happens.
“Alcohol acts as a depressant and slows the signals from the central nervous system (the brain and spinal column) to the penis,” Dr Liz explains.
“The signals tell the vessels in the penis and erectile tissue to dilate and relax which increases blood flow and leads to an erection.”
Alcohol is a diuretic which means it makes a person urinate more frequently, leading to dehydration, which lowers the overall blood volume.
She added: "Men need a good blood flow to maintain and sustain an erection, so excessive alcohol consumption can lead to erectile dysfunction as it reduces blood flow to the penis."
It can also lower your libido as it can reduce the production of testosterone in the body.
“Long term excessive alcohol intake can lead to chronic conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, which can all further intensify erectile dysfunction, causing permanent damage to the delicate nerves and vessels in the penis,” she explained.
People with mental illness can often self-medicate with alcohol, which in turn can worsen their mental health and compound erectile dysfunction problems.
Dr Liz said: “Alcohol can also interfere with your ability to orgasm, fertility and can have disastrous consequences if you were to become pregnant.”
How can I manage ED?
There are a multitude of reasons why excessive alcohol intake can ruin your sexual enjoyment – fortunately there are lots of things that can be done to prevent erectile dysfunction from becoming permanent.
The expert said: “Men can make positive changes to their lifestyle and get better control of underlying conditions, which can help symptoms of erectile dysfunction, but if this doesn’t work, there are medications already on the market to treat ED such as Viagra and Cialis.
“Whilst these medications are effective in some men, approximately 30 to 40 percent do not respond to this treatment.”
She added: “There are also medications undergoing clinical trials, such as those at MAC Clinical Research, which are being explored as potential treatment options for erectile dysfunction, and work differently than current treatments available.”
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