Can alcohol cause erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability achieve an erection or the inability to maintain the erection long enough to have a complete sexual act. Every man can have difficulties, at some point in his life, in achieving an erection. According to medical specialist someone with erectile dysfunction have these problems quite frequently, at least 25% of the time. The most common causes of this condition are: diabetes (high blood sugar), atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), hypertension (high blood pressure), some medications such as antidepressants, fatigue, brain or spine injuries and excessive consumption of alcohol and tobacco.

Alcohol consumption is wide spread and culturally accepted. It is a part of community social life, being used as a drink in the various life situations and as a method of treatment. 90% of people consume alcohol at some point in life, and alcohol problems occur in about 30% of drinkers.

We know that erection begins in the brain, it detests the sexual stimulation and sends nervous message to the penile muscle, causing it to relax. As a result the blood flow increases, venous valves close and erection occurs. In case of alcohol abuse, even though the penile tissue expand and allows blood flow, it cannot prevent backflow; as a result the penis cannot stay erect.

Excessive consumption of alcohol generates a psychological addiction, at first, and then organic toxicity. Alcohol abuse leads to liver dysfunction, which influence the hormonal balance of the body. As a result testosterone levels in men decrease leading to a low sexual desire, and eventually to a reduce sperm count and erectile dysfunction. Also excessive alcohol use worsens the main medical conditions that lead to erectile dysfunction: diabetes and high blood pressure.

Alcohol is a sedative and it depresses the nervous system and it numbs the nerve endings in the genitals, causing slower reflexes.

This is also the reason why drunken people experience fuzzy thinking. Also excessive alcohol use has a negative influence sperm quality.

Alcohol also disrupts the physiological activity of the cardiovascular system causing grave consequences that endanger the lives: high blood pressure, heart rhythm disorders, increased risk of heart attack and stroke are the most common. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy appears after a period of more than 10 years of alcohol consumption and has a severe evolution, but can be relieved by abstinence. Cardiovascular disorders are the main causes of erectile dysfunction. However, in healthy individuals moderate drinking can improve the blood flow and should not cause erectile dysfunction.