Alcohol Is Not A Total Libido Killer After All, Says Science

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How Alcohol REALLY Affects Your Libido, According To Science

By Amanda Cargill

Alcohol and sex. They go together like chips and salsa. Or do they?

Here at the Latina offices, there was a lot of chisme about the correlation between libido and alcohol consumption. The general consensus was that alcohol is a turn on.

That consensus collapsed after Valentine’s Day, though, when a few of the wives and girlfriends on staff confided that they woke up on February 15th asking ‘Why, after a seductive dinner and cocktails, didn’t he tear my clothes off?’

The answer is tricky, largely because there are so many variables involved in alcohol’s physical effects — weight, age, fitness, to name just a few — and because those reporting the effects can be unreliable. (Name one man you know who would admit to whiskey dick or brewer’s droop. You can’t, can you?)

So the question remains: Do wine and spirits increase arousal and enhance sexual performance?


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A 2009 study by Western Australia’s Keogh Institute for Medical Research found that of 1,580 Australian men, 30% reported increased sexual performance after moderate drinking. What’s more, binge drinkers also reported lower rates of erectile dysfunction as compared to their non-drinking counterparts.

Psychologists, however, point out that the reported effects may be more mental than physical (e.g. calming sexual anxiety versus boosting stamina or increasing blood flow to the penis). Additionally, the respondents’ partners didn’t corroborate the findings. (Recall above reference to unreliability and first parenthetical statement — “Name one man you know who would admit to whiskey dick or brewer’s droop.”) Translation: Of course the men said they performed better! Did anyone ask their partners if they agreed?  

Also notable is the fact that there are numerous studies wherein former couch potatoes who have lost weight from diet and exercise report improved erectile performance. This makes sense given that erections are about blood flow, and obesity decreases blood flow.

It also demonstrates how difficult it is to interpret research, as many complex factors influence individual response to both sex and alcohol. 

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As for how alcohol affects women, a 1994 study by Finnish alcohol retailer Alko showed interesting results: Women experienced increased levels of testosterone following moderate alcohol consumption.

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Testosterone being both a steroid and the primary male sex hormone, this increase likely accounts for why so many women say they feel sexier, flirtier, and more inclined to initiate sex, as well as more aggressive in bed, after a couple drinks.

The same study showed the converse for men, who did not experience a testosterone increase after moderate alcohol consumption.

The Alko study does not diminish the Australia study’s findings. Where the latter examined performance — as perceived by men — the former looked at physiological changes in its subjects, thus further highlighting the conflicts within all of this research.

One thing that’s a near certainty is that when it comes to influencing libido and performance, one type of spirit is no better or worse.


Tequila won’t te-kill-ya in the bedroom any more than whiskey will make your man más macho. On a personal note, all this reading and writing about sex and alcohol has made me thirsty for a drink (or three). I’ll let you know tomorrow what my personal study reveals.

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This article was originally published at Latina. Reprinted with permission from the author.