Does drinking alcohol block your ability to have an orgasm? People often say that a cocktail or a glass of wine helps them to relax or even feel a little sexier. But does it actually result in better sex? Probably not.
Alcohol has the reputation of being an aphrodisiac. One or two drinks (depending on your weight, gender and other factors) can act as a social lubricant. Studies have shown that alcohol can enable some people to overcome sexual inhibitions or anxieties.
It's important to understand what constitutes one drink and how other factors such as weight and gender affect each individual. This page explains those factors and can help you understand a safe level of alcohol use for you.
Let's take a look at what happens to our bodies when we drink alcohol.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Alcohol acts by inhibiting parts of the central nervous system important for sexual arousal and orgasm -- respiration, circulation and sensitivity of nerve endings.
Alcohol dehydrates the body. Sexual arousal needs a certain amount of blood to bring oxygen and greater sensation to the genitals.
Alcohol can make getting an erection more difficult. Large amounts of alcohol (or long-term) consumption has been associated with problems getting erections. Dehydration with drinking causes less blood volume and a rise in angiotensin, the hormone associated with erectile dysfunction. Alcohol's inhibition of the central nervous system also contributes to the problem.
Alcohol can cause vaginal dryness. The dehydration common when drinking alcohol can contribute to fatigue, headaches and vaginal dryness.
Alcohol can delay or prevent orgasm. In 2004, a study found 11% of alcohol users were likely to have problems reaching orgasm. The men had difficulty ejaculating while the women needed much more stimulation to have an orgasm than women who had little or nothing to drink.
Some researchers recommend alcohol as a treatment to control ejaculation timng. While alcohol may be a temporary solution for some, there are more effective and permanent treatments for premature ejaculation. Visit our premature ejaculation page for more information.
While women who are tipsy or drunk have more difficulty physically reaching orgasm, some women report feeling more pleasure subjectively. This may be attributable to relaxed social feelings and inhibitions. Click here to learn more about female orgasm.
If you want to have good sex for tonight and for years to come, not drinking alcohol at all or consuming no more than 1 to 2 drinks a night will allow you to enjoy sex without the negative physiological impacts discussed above. If you do drink, exchange a second or third alcoholic drink for a glass of water to combat the effects of dehydration and you and your sexual partner(s) will benefit.
If you are a Brown student and you are concerned about your own use of alcohol or other drugs or a friend’s use, you can have a free, confidential appointment at Health Education, 401.863-2794 . Our focus is harm reduction, not abstinence, and we will work with you on the changes you choose to make. Located on the third floor of Health Services.
If you are confused about an experience you've had or not sure if your partner respected your boundaries, you can speak with someone on campus. Brown students can contact Bita Shooshani, firstname.lastname@example.org or 401.863-2794, for confidential support. Please click here for more resources on and off campus.
College Drinking: Changing the Culture
Click on the section for students to find out about myths and facts, take an interactive tour of the flow of alcohol through the body or learn about alcohol poisoning. You can use the Calorie Counter to learn about the number of calories in different drinks and you can send an eCard to someone who's drinking worries you.
The Blood Alcohol Calculator
Learn how gender, body weight, food and how fast you drink can affect your blood alcohol concentration. This is an interactive tool that shows you how much alcohol is in different drinks and how your BAC would compare to male and female friends.
The content on this page was adapted from the Huffington Post article What Alcohol Really Does to Your Sex Life by Petra Zebroff.
Disclaimer: Health Education is part of Health Services at Brown University. Health Education maintains this site as a resource for Brown students. This site is not intended to replace consultation with your medical providers. No site can replace real conversation. Health Education offers no endorsement of and assumes no liability for the currency, accuracy, or availability of the information on the sites we link to or the care provided by the resources listed. Health Services staff are available to treat and give medical advice to Brown University students only. If you are not a Brown student, but are in need of medical assistance please call your own health care provider or in case of an emergency, dial 911. Please contact us if you have comments, questions or suggestions.