Alcohol and Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Written by Brendan Levy

The true story of whiskey dick.

Alcohol Makes it Harder to Get Hard

Drinking too much alcohol can interfere with erections in the short term - making it harder to get an erection if you’ve had too much to drink (sometimes called whiskey dick or drunk dick).

This is due to a combination of effects including the lowering of blood pressure and the psychological effects of alcohol. Alcohol acts as a psychological depressant in the short term which may make you feel less aroused, tired, or otherwise interfere with sexual function. Then when you are withdrawing it can also increase anxiety which may also interfere with maintaining a satisfying erection.

Long Term Excessive Alcohol Use also Damages Penile Health

In addition to the short term effects - drinking too much over the long term can impact your health in a lot of ways. The excess carbohydrates in alcohol can lead to weight gain which can worsen your cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) health.

Using ED Medicine and Alcohol

Talk to your doctor if you plan on using ED medicines like Viagra or Cialis with alcohol. Using ED medicines with alcohol can cause your blood pressure to dip lower which could increase risk for syncope (fainting) and other serious side effects. However it is generally safe for most men to use these medicines with 1 - 2 drinks of alcohol if your doctor approves it.

How Much Alcohol is Too Much?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines excessive drinking as:

  • Excessive drinking includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, and any drinking by pregnant women or people younger than age 21.

    • Binge drinking, the most common form of excessive drinking is defined as consuming:
    • For women, 4 or more drinks during a single occasion.
    • For men, 5 or more drinks during a single occasion.
    • Heavy drinking is defined as consuming:
    • For women, 8 or more drinks per week.
    • For men, 15 or more drinks per week.

If you are drinking more than this - or you are noticing that alcohol use is negatively impacting your life, making you feel guilty, anxious, or interfering with your sex life then that is defintiely something to talk to your doctor about.

Bottom Line

If you think you may be drinking too much we strongly recommend that you talk to your primary care doctor to develop a plan to cut back gradually and safely. Especially if you drink alcohol 3 or more days per week, it is a good idea to cut back slowly. Stopping all at once could cause a serious or deadly withdrawal reaction or seizure. If you need any help finding resources to reduce or stop using alcohol let us know!


The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of HeyDoctor, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.