Is alcohol affecting your sex life?

Find out why too much alcohol can have negative effects on your sex-life for you and your partner.

Drinking alcohol to excess can make having good sex difficult. Dr Abigael San, clinical psychologist and alcohol expert, says this is because alcohol reduces both men's and women's sexual sensitivity.

"In both sexes, sexual response is reduced by regular and prolonged drinking," she says.

"In men, alcohol can cause difficulties getting and maintaining an erection - while women may experience reduced lubrication, find it harder to have an orgasm, or have orgasms that are less intense."

Many people mistakenly believe that alcohol is an aphrodisiac. However, over time too much alcohol can actually put a dampener on your sex drive.

Find out about the link between alcohol and unprotected sex in underage drinkers

Sexual side-effects

Drinking too much over an extended period of time can turn a temporary condition like 'brewer's droop' into full-blown impotence1. Drinking alcohol can also affect your fertility if you're planning to have children. Women who drink over the UK Chief Medical Officers' (CMO) low risk drinking guidelines of 14 units a week can take longer to become pregnant and can suffer from menstrual and fertility problems. The low risk guideline is the same for men and women.

Take our Alcohol Self Assessment test to find out if you're drinking too much.

Recapture your spark

If you're serious about not letting alcohol get between you and great sex, then it's best to try cutting down on alcohol all-together. Start by planning romantic nights that don't involve drinking alcohol at all, or make sure that you keep the amount on offer to within recommended guidance of not regularly drinking more than 14 units a week for both men and women.

Practical ways to cut back on booze

Rather than criticising your partner's drinking habits, acknowledge that it could be a good idea for both of you to cut down.

Some enthusiastic praise can help steer your partner towards what makes you both feel good. Compliments like "You look really slim now you've cut down on the pints" will help your partner feel positive about their choice.

Record your everyday drinking so at the end of the week you can see what you've consumed. Our free Drinkaware: Track and Calculate Units app or MyDrinkaware tool are perfect for this.

See how much alcohol is really in your drinks with our Unit Calculator.

If you've got into the habit of drinking wine for dinner, try switching to a non-alcoholic drink choice instead or try dinner-only drinking.

Put away the money you would have spent on alcohol. Then, at the end of the month use it for something you can do together.

Use our calculator to find out how cutting back a little on alcohol can help you feel a lot better



(1) NHS Choices website. Male sexual problems. The Information Standard member organisation. Last reviewed: 10/06/2014. Available at:


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