Tom Holland revealed last week that he’s gone sober after feeling “enslaved” by alcohol. As of January this year, YouGov reported that nearly one in four (24%) have given up drinking, with a further 23% stating they had reduced their alcohol consumption in the past six months.
Dr Babak Ashrafi, a general practitioner specialising in sexual health, has answered some crucial questions about alcohol’s effects on sex.
How can giving up alcohol impact your libido?
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant with short-term and long-term effects on sexual function. It impairs coordination, judgment, and reaction time, leading to difficulties achieving and maintaining erections in men. It can increase vaginal dryness for women, causing discomfort during sex and reducing your libido. While it initially increases sexual desire, excessive consumption decreases libido and arousal over a prolonged period.
Continuous heavy alcohol use can cause chronic conditions like liver disease, hormonal imbalances, and nerve damage, contributing to sexual dysfunction, reduced desire, and infertility. It disrupts hormone balance, including testosterone, which is crucial for sexual function and decreases libido and performance.
Does going sober improve intimacy?
Prohibiting alcohol consumption can reduce emotional and psychological issues, such as anxiety, depression, and decreased sexual satisfaction. This allows for better communication within your relationship and puts less strain on your partner.
By avoiding alcohol, individuals may experience increased energy and stamina, allowing for more satisfying and prolonged sexual experiences while having a more meaningful connection. Staying sober allows individuals to communicate clearly and effectively, promoting a healthier and safer consenting sexual experience.
Does going sober improve your erectile function?
Alcohol functions as a depressant, impacting the functioning of your central nervous system. Normally, when you experience arousal, the brain sends nerve signals to increase the blood circulation to your penis, leading to an erection. However, alcohol consumption hampers the smooth transmission of these signals, weakening the connection and making it more challenging to achieve an erection.
Does alcohol affect the duration of sex?
Erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation are more common among men who excessively drink alcohol. Whilst the misconception is that you can last longer when drunk, alcohol-induced dehydration causes temporary erectile dysfunction due to the release of a hormone called angiotensin.
This hormone narrows your blood vessels, preventing effective blood flow to your penis, making it even more challenging to stay hard during sex.
How can giving up alcohol improve your confidence in the bedroom?
Whilst alcohol can temporarily reduce inhibitions, making you feel more confident, going sober can improve your body confidence. With lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression, your mental health can improve, making you feel happier generally.
Many studies show that giving up alcohol increases your self-esteem. Confidence is crucial in improving your sex life by fostering a positive self-image and allowing you to fully embrace and express your desires, leading to increased sexual satisfaction and exploration.
What other lifestyle changes can improve your sex life?
Many things can impact your sex life; however, remember everyone is impacted differently, so what works for you may not work for someone else. You can consider quitting smoking, exercising, dieting, reducing stress and caffeine, and improving sleep.
Smoking narrows your blood vessels, reducing your libido and increasing erectile dysfunction. Exercising regularly can reduce stress levels and release endorphins, improving confidence and body image in the bedroom. High-stress levels can also release cortisol which impacts your body’s sex hormones, so it’s good to keep stress levels down if you’re looking to improve your libido.
A lack of sleep has also been linked to erectile dysfunction creating tension in the bedroom when you feel you can’t perform. Even better, prohibiting your alcohol intake can improve your sleep and erection. For women, a lack of sleep can interrupt their sexual responses, reducing that libido.