While alcohol is commonly associated with helping people get in the mood and loosen up, excessive alcohol use can lead to a wide range of problems. From difficulties in your relationships and poor mental health to weight gain and worsened physical health, alcohol abuse can show itself in a variety of negative consequences.

More specifically, there is a strong correlation between excessive alcohol consumption and sexual dysfunction. Regular heavy drinking can lead to various sexual disorders and health concerns, including erectile dysfunction, decreased sexual desire, orgasm disorder, and sexual pain disorder. Not only do these issues tend to manifest themselves in physical symptoms, but they can also affect your mental and social health. As these disorders worsen, people tend to turn to alcohol or other substances as a coping mechanism, therefore worsening their symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about the connection between erectile dysfunction and alcohol abuse.

How Your Lifestyle Impacts Sexual Health

Lifestyle choices are a big risk factor in developing erectile dysfunction. A poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, excessive drinking, and stress can all worsen or cause the symptoms associated with ED. Excessive drinking is particularly harmful to one’s sexual health. According to the CDC, “excessive alcohol use can interfere with testicular function and male hormone production resulting in erectile dysfunction and infertility.” It can also lead to other health concerns—like hypertension—which can damage blood vessels throughout the body, including those that supply blood flow to the penis.

Alcohol abuse is also harmful to sexual health because it commonly leads to a cycle of dysfunction. As people attempt to cope with the disorders they have developed, sometimes due to the unhealthy lifestyle choices they have made, they often turn to coping mechanisms like drinking or smoking. Not only can this worsen the symptoms of sexual dysfunctions like ED, but it can also lead to greater dependency and addiction.

The Benefits of Alcohol Abstinence

There are countless benefits to alcohol abstinence that go beyond improvements in sexual health. Heavy drinking can increase the risk of developing a variety of mental and physical health issues, including anxiety, cancer, depression, high blood pressure, and stroke. On the other hand, alcohol recovery can lead to a lot of benefits, including the following:

  • Better skin
  • Improved sleep
  • Weight loss
  • Greater immunity
  • Improved mental health
  • Reduced cardiovascular risk
  • Better memory
  • Happier relationships

A few of these benefits are also highly connected to erectile dysfunction, especially improvements in mental health, happier relationships, and reduced cardiovascular risk. As you begin to see developments in your health in other ways, you will likely see improvements in erectile functioning as well.

How to Get Help

If you have been struggling with erectile dysfunction and alcohol abuse, it’s always a great time to get help. Alcohol abstinence could be the key to seeing a real improvement in your erections, so don’t hesitate to reach out to someone who can help you. Counseling is an excellent tool that can help you work through pent-up emotions that may have influenced your addiction and/or ED. Mental health professionals can also help you identify other coping mechanisms that can be most beneficial for you. 

Counselors have a wide range of treatment options available, which they will tailor to best treat you and your needs. Here are a few types of therapy you might expect them to use while addressing alcohol addiction:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Teaches you how to identify the thoughts, moods, and situations that may cause you to drink
  • Psychotherapy: The classic conversational approach to expressing your feelings and thoughts
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): Teaches four main strategies (mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal skills, emotion regulation) to help patients find emotional balance and embrace change. 

The key to addressing your erectile dysfunction could be abstaining from alcohol. Not only will you see improvements in your sexual health, but you will also notice a few other benefits too. There is no better time to get help and prioritize your well-being than now, so reach out to a specialist today.

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