Do we really last longer in bed when we’re drunk?
The short answer is yes – an alcoholic drink or two can help us relax into sex and enjoy the action for longer.
But what’s the optimal amount and which alcoholic drink works best? To answer these questions, let’s consider the pros and cons of drinking before sex.
And please note that I’m talking about moderate, social levels of drinking here. Heavy alcohol use is all negative and will wreak havoc with your sexual function.
Let’s start with the positives
Alcohol can increase your sexual desire
A drink, maybe two drinks if you’re a bigger guy at 190lbs or more, can get you in the mood and increase sexual desire.
Alcohol ramps up norepinephrine levels in the brain. Elevated levels of this neurotransmitter increase arousal and lower inhibitions.
In moderation, this puts us more in the moment. We’re able to express our desires and feel less self-conscious. It might make you more sexually adventurous.
Alcohol interferes with your ability to feel sexual stimulation
If you struggle with over-stimulation and premature ejaculation, this is an immense potential benefit. Alcohol messes with the signals between the penis and the brain, producing a numbing effect.
So if you tend to feel over-excited during sex, or if physical stimulation gets you off a bit too soon, this lowering of your penile sensitivity can be beneficial.
Guys generally find that the numbing effect from alcohol is fairly minimal. As I’m sure you’re aware, there are creams, sprays and wipes on the market that have a more intense effect, but they have their own drawbacks.
The positive expectation effect
Generally speaking, men tend to associate alcohol with positive social interactions. Laughing with friends, partying, and of course, flirting. With a drink in our hand, we just feel more laid back and confident in ourselves.
So there’s a placebo effect at work. Regardless of any chemical effect, alcohol feels like it creates good times.
Fear of failure is a huge part of premature ejaculation. Even when we feel aroused and horny, our negative expectations create a self-fulfilling prophecy. So taking a drink can help offset our performance anxiety.
But there are downsides to drinking before sex
Alcohol and erection problems
Alcohol affects the circulation and blood flow to the penis, just when you need it most. Sexual function can become more erratic.
So yes, we know that alcohol affects the neurotransmission of signals between the penis and the brain. This can helpfully dampen down our sensitivity, but it can work against us too.
Heavier alcohol use speeds up male orgasm and ejaculation
In one study of men who had a more long-term dependency on alcohol, the most commonly reported sexual problem from these guys was premature ejaculation. They also reported erection difficulties and erectile dysfunction, but to a lesser degree.
Alcohol can delay female orgasm
After a few drinks, women can find it quite difficult to reach orgasm. Or their experience of orgasm is much less intense.
So if both partners have had a skinful, this can actually negate any potential benefits to the guy’s relaxation levels.
The negative expectation effect (aka “I need a drink”)
We know that if guys feel a positive association between alcohol and sex, this can make them feel more confident. But if guys only associate good sex with having a drink first, this can make it difficult for them to have spontaneous sex when there isn’t any alcohol around.
A man might feel that he needs a drink in order to perform and when he hasn’t had a drink, this can add to performance anxiety and negative over-thinking. Or he might only have sex with his partner when he’s drunk, which can get old quite quickly in a relationship.
Alcohol can get in the way of progress
Alcohol decreases some of the activity of the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain helps you to think clearly and rationally, and it is involved in your decision making abilities.
If you’ve been getting to work on overcoming premature ejaculation, you’ll probably be learning techniques of relaxation, breathwork and movement.
And of course, you want to be able to deploy these techniques when you’re having actual sex with your partner. This requires some resourcefulness during sex, which can go out of the window when you’re intoxicated.
Alcohol can make us default to old habits and reflexes, which defeats the purpose of all that good effort and training.
Alcohol and lasting longer: the bottom line
You’ll have noticed a bit of a theme here: my references to one drink as opposed to a few drinks. Just one drink, an hour or two before sex, might help you last longer in bed.
What should that drink be? There is some evidence that red wine is the way to go due to its antioxidant and flavonoid properties.
Red wine might offer a slight boost to testosterone levels, in moderation. Heavy drinking over time always has a negative effect on testosterone. It makes our testosterone levels plummet.
If you’re a beer drinker, a darker beer might offer some benefits in terms of blood circulation and heart health. Ideally, it’s best to consume your alcohol with a meal a little while before sex.
So any more than a drink, and you’re probably better off having no alcohol at all.
It provokes the desire but it takes away the performance.William Shakespeare, Macbeth
Shakespeare knew about the impact of alcohol on sex. And this is a key insight when we’re learning to build our sexual confidence and find ways to enjoy sex for longer.
Often it’s a case of letting go of the crutches: the sprays and the creams and the pills and the herbal remedies and even the alcohol. Yes, these things might offer a slight benefit, but they aren’t necessary for confident sexual experiences.
That’s the long-term way to go, in my opinion. That’s the way to build lasting confidence in ourselves and to be able to enjoy spontaneous, open sex with our partners.
Enjoy a social drink before sex by all means, but don’t think that you need it.