While alcohol may have a reputation as something that all too often leads to sex, drinking too much can seriously impact your sexual performance and even cause you to experience ED.
Whiskey dick, or alcohol-induced erectile dysfunction, is a form of erectile dysfunction that can occur after you drink alcohol. Although it’s usually only temporary, it can be a major annoyance when it strikes at the end of a fun, romantic night with your partner.
Like with many things related to sex and alcohol, there are countless myths about how whiskey dick occurs. There are also numerous completely unscientific yet surprisingly popular “tricks” to avoid whiskey dick after a night of heavy drinking.
Below, we’ve explained the science behind how and why whiskey dick happens when you drink too much alcohol.
We’ve also explained what you can do to maintain your sexual performance and avoid common issues like whiskey dick after a night out.
Whiskey dick is a temporary form of erectile dysfunction that can occur when you’re intoxicated due to alcohol consumption. After drinking, you may find that you can’t get or keep an erection, even if you’re strongly in the mood for sex.
Whiskey dick develops as a result of the effects alcohol has on your cardiovascular and central nervous systems. Alcohol is, after all, a depressant, which means that it has a slowing effect on your Central Nervous System (CNS).
As you consume alcohol and your CNS is affected, it can impair reasoning, reaction time and motor skills, and also messes with the information brought to and relayed from the brain to other parts of your body — including, yes, your penis. Bummer.
Clinically, whiskey dick is referred to as alcohol-induced erectile dysfunction, or alcohol-induced sexual dysfunction. It can last for several hours, although it usually slowly improves as you start to sober up.
Yes and no. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, meaning you and your partner might be more likely to rush home for a night of fun after a few drinks.
Alcohol is also associated with riskier sexual behaviors. For example, research published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol found that young adults were more likely to have casual sex after drinking alcohol.
However, on a physiological level, alcohol isn’t particularly good for your sexual performance as a man. In fact, alcohol has several negative effects on your sexual performance:
The more alcohol you drink in a short period of time, the stronger these effects become. This is why you’re much more likely to deal with whiskey dick after a long, wild night of shots than after a drink or two at dinner time.
Contrary to popular belief, there’s no scientific proof that any one type of alcoholic drink is more likely to cause sexual performance issues than others. All alcoholic drinks contain ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, although the concentration can vary from one drink to another.
Put simply, whiskey dick isn’t only caused by whiskey. Any type of alcoholic drink can potentially affect your sexual performance if it’s consumed in excess.
Dealing with erectile dysfunction can be awkward, especially when it occurs after you and your partner have had a few drinks.
The best way to deal with whiskey dick is usually to be upfront, honest and transparent about it with your partner. Let them know that although you want to have sex, you’re a little too drunk for your body to agree with you.
Since whiskey dick is normally temporary, you may find it easier to get and stay hard when you wake up the next morning. Just make sure to have a glass of water before you sleep to prevent a hangover from interfering with your next-morning sex plans.
Alternatively, have fun with your partner without having penetrative sex. From oral sex to mutual masturbation, there are numerous ways to have a satisfying, sexy night even if you can’t get or stay fully hard.
The most effective way to prevent whiskey dick is to limit your alcohol consumption. Since this form of erectile dysfunction is caused entirely by the effects of alcohol, drinking less is an easy, effective way to significantly reduce your risk of being affected.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to completely avoid alcohol. If you like a drink every now and then, try to enjoy alcohol in moderation without drinking to excess.
One good way to drink responsibly is to stick to the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendation of up to two drinks per day for men or one drink per day for women.
If you’re out for a night of drinks with friends or your partner, try using the following techniques to drink responsibly:
Most of the time, alcohol-induced erectile dysfunction will go away as your body metabolizes the alcohol and you sober up.
If you often find it difficult to get an erection, even after drinking moderately, your ED issues may not be caused solely by alcohol.
Erectile dysfunction is a common issue that can affect men of all ages. About 30 million men are affected by ED in the US alone. A variety of factors can cause ED, from your physical health to psychological issues, lifestyle factors or your use of certain types of medication.
If you have persistent ED that occurs with or without alcohol, it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider to learn more about your options.
Most of the time, ED can be treated with medication. If you’re prone to erectile dysfunction, your healthcare provider may prescribe sildenafil (generic Viagra, the active ingredient in Viagra®), tadalafil (Cialis®), avanafil (Stendra®) or similar medication to improve your sexual performance.
These medications work by increasing blood flow to your penis, making it easier to get and keep an erection when you feel sexually aroused.
Although it’s okay to use these medications with a small amount of alcohol, you’ll need to avoid drinking to excess if you use medication to treat ED.
You can learn more about how these medications work, their safety, side effects and more in our guide to the most common ED treatments and drugs.
Whiskey dick is a common annoyance that can occur when you drink too much alcohol before having sex.
The easiest way to prevent whiskey dick is to drink alcohol responsibly. Try to limit yourself to a maximum of two drinks per night and use the tips listed above to drink slowly and steadily when you’re out with friends or your partner.
If you have persistent ED that occurs with or without alcohol, talk to a healthcare provider to find out more about your options.