Does alcohol really affect men’s sexual functioning?

Although drinking often precedes men’s sexual activity, basic questions about alcohol’s effects on men’s sexual arousal remain unanswered. Inconsistencies in findings from studies examining subjective and physiological effects on erectile functioning suggest these effects are context specific, for example, dependent on whether a man wants to maximize or suppress his arousal. To address unresolved questions about alcohol and erectile functioning, the authors evaluated the effects of high blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) and arousal instructional demands on indices of penile circumference change and self-reported sexual arousal. In Study 1, a target BAC of .10% (vs. .00%) attenuated peak circumference change from a neutral baseline but did not affect mean change, latency to arousal onset (a 5% increase in circumference from baseline), latency to peak achieved arousal, or subjective arousal, which correlated moderately with physiological indices. In Study 2, instructions to maximize (vs. suppress) arousal increased peak and mean circumference change and interacted with a target BAC of .08% (vs. .00%) to influence latency to arousal onset. Sober men instructed to maximize showed a shorter latency to arousal onset than did those instructed to suppress arousal; however, intoxicated men did not show a differential pattern. Moreover, compared with intoxicated counterparts, sober men instructed to maximize arousal showed a marginally shorter latency to arousal onset. Overall, alcohol and arousal instructions had small but discernible effects. Findings highlight the importance of contextual factors in alcohol’s impact on erectile functioning.

Source: “Alcohol and erectile response: The effects of high dosage in the context of demands to maximize sexual arousal.” from Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, Vol 14(4), Nov 2006, 461-470

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