If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line at 988 and press 1, or Text 838255. You can also call 911.

Alcohol and Sexual Function

If you choose to drink alcohol, the key is moderation. In addition to impacting your sleep, mood, and brain health, excessive alcohol drinking can impact your sexual function and performance. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines excessive alcohol consumption as having more than two servings of alcohol per day for men or one serving per day for women. In the U.S., one “standard” alcoholic drink contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol. 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (e.g., gin, rum, tequila, whiskey, vodka), each count as one standard drink.

How Does Alcohol Affect Men’s Sexual and Reproductive Health?

  • Research has shown that alcohol use, even more so with excessive alcohol use, can interfere with testicular function and male hormone (testosterone) production, resulting in men experiencing difficulties maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction) and infertility. Prolonged low testosterone levels may contribute to the “feminization” of male sexual characteristics (for example, male breast enlargement).
  • Alcohol use has also been shown to lower a man’s inhibitions. The more alcohol men drink, the more likely they are to engage in impulsive sexual behaviors – such as not using condoms or engaging in sexual activity with different partners – increasing the risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections.

How Does Alcohol Affect Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health?

A 2023 study published in BMC Women’s Health examined the impact of alcohol consumption on women’s sexual dysfunction.

This systematic review and meta-analysis looked at hundreds of articles and databases and found that women tended to experience decreased sexual stimulation, decreased vaginal lubrication, dyspareunia (described as painful intercourse or genital pain that occurs before, during or after sex) and difficulty reaching orgasm as their level of alcohol consumption increased.

Research also shows that drinking too much alcohol on a single occasion or over time can decrease women’s sexual responsiveness and interrupt women’s menstrual periods.

What to Do

To maintain good sexual and reproductive health, men and women should limit the amount of alcohol they drink to no more than a moderate level of alcohol consumption. For men this means consuming no more than two servings of alcohol per day, and for women no more than one serving of alcohol per day.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Military Crisis Line at 988 and press 1, or Text 838255. You can also call 911.