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Updated on April 15, 2023
4 min read

If I Stop Drinking Will My ED Go Away?

Can Alcohol Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

For some people, drinking alcohol can give them more confidence in social or sexual situations. Alcohol is sometimes referred to as “liquid courage.” But drinking alcohol can affect your bodily functions, libido (sexual arousal), and sexual performance.2

For example, excessive alcohol consumption can cause erectile dysfunction (also known as ED, for short).6

Chronic alcohol abuse can wreak havoc on your central nervous system and cause long-term erectile dysfunction. This might happen once or twice, but it can also become a chronic issue.

Understanding Erectile Dysfunction and Its Connection to Alcohol

Erectile dysfunction, or impotence, is a common problem for men. It’s particularly prevalent in people over the age of 40 years old. It’s characterized by the inability to obtain or sustain an erection.

Alcohol can affect your ability to get or keep an erection long enough to engage in sexual activity.

Anywhere between 16 to 73 percent of chronic heavy drinkers experience nervous system dysfunction.5

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Alcohol Use and Sexual Problems

Regular or high alcohol use can cause several problems, affecting sexual desire and intercourse.2

When you’re aroused, the nerve signals in your brain trigger blood flow to the penis. These signals trigger the release of nitric oxide, which dilates your blood vessels so blood can flow to the penis. Too much alcohol slows down that communication.

Alcohol can impede signals from the brain to the penis, making it difficult to get an erection. Long-term alcohol use can also cause sexual dysfunction in other ways.

Additional Consequences of Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Too much alcohol can also pump up the production of the sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) in your liver. This binds to free testosterone, which tanks your testosterone levels and can lead to erectile dysfunction.3

Heavy alcohol use is also linked to increased cardiovascular problems, including heart disease. Heart disease is one of the most common causes of sexual dysfunction in men.1

Binge drinkers (who drank more than two to three times in a month) were 70 percent more at risk of developing high blood pressure. High blood pressure can cause heart disease and double men’s risk of erectile dysfunction.8

Some other sexual problems that drinking alcohol can cause include the following:

  • Weight gain, which can affect confidence and stamina
  • Nerve damage, which can cause long-term sexual dysfunction
  • Mood disorders like depression, which can crush libido7
  • Central nervous system issues, which can decrease sensation in the penis
  • Dehydration from alcohol increases the hormone angiotensin, which limits blood flow to the penis

Not all people who drink alcohol will experience erectile dysfunction or other sexual problems. But alcohol-induced sexual dilemmas are not uncommon. 

Can Quitting Drinking Fix Your Erectile Dysfunction?

Alcohol-induced erectile dysfunction can go away if you stop drinking unless you have sustained serious, long-term damage from alcohol consumption. 

Once you sober up and the alcohol clears from your system, your body may resume regular functioning. This means that you may be able to obtain and sustain an erection unless other factors are at play (like medications or even nerves). 

Studies suggest that, of people with alcohol use disorder and erectile dysfunction, 88.5 percent show improvements after three months of no more drinking.4

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Erectile Dysfunction Treatment Options

If you’re consuming alcohol and experiencing erectile dysfunction, there are treatment options available to help you:9

  • Treatment for alcoholism, including rehabilitation and support groups
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy to treat both alcoholism and co-existing disorders like anxiety or depression, which can all cause sexual dysfunction
  • Medications for erectile dysfunction:10
    • Sildenafil NIH (Viagra)
    • Vardenafil NIH (Levitra, Staxyn)
    • Tadalafil NIH (Cialis)
    • Avanafil NIH (Stendra)

Talk to your doctor about your situation. Different treatments may work for different people. It’s important to explore all of your options to make an informed decision.

If you struggle with another mental or physical health disorder that’s causing erectile dysfunction, you have to treat that disorder as well.

For example, if you have depression, which can affect your libido, treating depression can treat erectile dysfunction. It can also help you find healthier coping mechanisms than drinking alcohol if you struggle with alcohol abuse.

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Summary

Erectile dysfunction is a common side effect of drinking alcohol, especially in those with an alcohol use disorder. If you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction from drinking, it may be taking a toll on your sex life. 

Many people struggle with erectile dysfunction. If you notice that alcohol-induced erectile dysfunction is hurting your sex life, talk to your doctor about alcohol abuse recovery programs and sexual dysfunction treatment options.

Alcohol-induced sexual dysfunction may disappear if you stop binge drinking or reduce your alcohol intake. Navigating the road to recovery with professional help is safer and typically more successful than doing it alone.

Updated on April 15, 2023
10 sources cited
Updated on April 15, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. A;, Goel S;Sharma A;Garg. “Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Cardiovascular Health.” Current Cardiology Reports, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  2. CL;, Li S;Song JM;Zhang K;Zhang. “A Meta-Analysis of Erectile Dysfunction and Alcohol Consumption.” Urologia Internationalis, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  3. Emanuele, M A, and N V Emanuele. “Alcohol's Effects on Male Reproduction.” Alcohol Health and Research World, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  4. JP;, Karunakaran A;Michael. “The Impact of Abstinence from Alcohol on Erectile Dysfunction: A Prospective Follow up in Patients with Alcohol Use Disorder.” The Journal of Sexual Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  5. Julian, Thomas Henry, et al. “Alcohol-Induced Autonomic Dysfunction: A Systematic Review.” Clinical Autonomic Research : Official Journal of the Clinical Autonomic Research Society, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  6. Psychiatry, Department of. “Prevalence and Correlates of Sexual Dysfunction in Male... : Indian Journal of Psychiatry.” LWW.
  7. Qian Liu MPH 1 2 ∗, et al. “Erectile Dysfunction and Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” The Journal of Sexual Medicine, No Longer Published by Elsevier.
  8. Santana, Nathália Miguel Teixeira, et al. “Consumption of Alcohol and Blood Pressure: Results of the Elsa-Brasil Study.” PloS One, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  9. Treatment.” NHS Choices, NHS.
  10. Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction - NIDDK.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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