Emma Schmidt, clinical sexologist at Cincinnati's University Hospitals, lost count of how many clients she has seen with low libido or problems orgasming, after first visiting a doctor, who told them to "just relax and drink a glass wine."
This type of suggestion, said Dr. Schmidt, is not only dismissive but also highlights our collective ignorance about the interaction between alcohol and sexual activity.
Recent research has shown that despite years of conflicting findings,
even moderate drinking poses risks
Your overall health. The question of whether alcohol can affect sexual health, and specifically orgasms, is a little more ambiguous.
Catalina Lawsin is a clinical psychology specialist who specializes on sexuality. 'Society portrays alcohol as an essential ingredient for romantic encounters', she said. She said that people mix alcohol and sex because alcohol relaxes them, offers a sense escapism and is widely believed to 'elevate sexual prowess'.
She said that the truth is far more complex.
'There is no research', said Dr. Lauren Streicher. She is a clinical professor at Northwestern University Feinberg Medical School, who specializes in sexual dysfunction among women.
There is a lot of data available.
You can also find out more about
Streicher's research suggests that small amounts of alcohol can increase arousal, and reduce sexual inhibitions. However, large amounts suppress arousal, and can delay or prevent orgasm.
It is helpful to understand the specific brain processes that occur when you drink.
Dr. Regina Krel is an assistant professor of Neurology at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. She described dopamine as the 'feel good neurotransmitter'. Researchers believe that
helps control desire
Alcohol also enhances the effects gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical messenger which inhibits nerve cell impulses, slowing down the brain and making the person feel more relaxed.
It makes you feel more horny. Laurie Mintz, a professor of psychology emeritus at the University of Florida, who is a specialist in human sexuality, says that it reduces inhibitions. But the irony is, it's actually a central nervous depressant.
This means that alcohol dampens the brain's function, said Dr. Krel, including the prefrontal cortex (which is in charge of things like weighing the consequences), the cerebellum, which controls coordination, and the autonomic nerve system, which regulates heart rate and breathing.
Dr. Lawsin said that alcohol can interfere with the brain's ability of processing sexual stimuli, and coordination muscle contractions which are essential to the orgasmic reaction. While alcohol may initially help to relax and reduce inhibitions, excessive consumption of the substance can interfere with intricate processes leading to orgasm's intense pleasure and satisfaction.
Experts said that drinking moderately before a sex session is generally OK. They also said that whether or not alcohol can help you achieve orgasm, by reducing inhibitions and stress, depends on how much and how often you consume it.
The term "moderate drinking" is used to describe this.
In the United States, men are not allowed to drink more than two drinks per day. Women can only have one. Alcohol affects people differently depending on a variety of factors.
Your body composition and size, as well as your drinking history.
Dr. Mintz stated that heavy alcohol consumption in men can lead to erectile malfunction and premature ejaculation.
The research has also been connected
Alcohol consumption and sexual dysfunction in women (persistent problems with sexual response or desire, orgasm).
Dr. Lawsin added that there is no magic number that everyone should drink. Excessive alcohol consumption can also affect the relationship between partners and impair the ability to make decisions or consent to sexual activity.
You should contact your primary care provider or therapist if you experience anorgasmia. This is characterized by delayed or infrequent orgasms or even no orgasms.
Dr. Schmidt says that he can connect you with the right specialist or treatment for your condition and help determine its root cause.
You may be experiencing orgasms due to underlying issues, such as certain medical conditions, medications, trauma and relationship problems, or alcohol.
She said that many primary care doctors and some gynecologists or urologists do not have specific training in sexology. It can be helpful to ask them if they are familiar with it and what their experience is.
Experience the Difference
Working with patients who have anorgasmia.
If you find that alcohol is affecting your orgasms then ask yourself why and how you drink alcohol during sex. Dr. Schmidt added that sex therapists and mental health professionals can be an invaluable resource.
Do you always or often drink before you eat?
She said that if someone uses alcohol to enable them to have sex or if they are afraid, ashamed, or feel vulnerable when having sex with no alcohol, we should explore further.