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What is whiskey dick? Here's how to treat it

Despite the name, alcohol-induced ED can happen from any type of alcohol.

Written by
Lucinda Starr
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
May 15, 2024
min read
What is whiskey dick? Here's how to treat it
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We know chatting about what happens in the bedroom can be a tad awkward. But the truth is that a lot of blokes are navigating the same things you might be experiencing. And trust us, chatting about it does help.

Ever had a big night out and then struggled to get it up in bed? Let's introduce you to a term you might not know about: whiskey dick.

In case you don't know what is whiskey dick and how to treat it, we've got you covered.

Whiskey dick basically happens when you consume alcohol in large amounts and the alcohol affects your sexual functioning and performance. The blood flow and blood circulation around the penis can be impacted by drinking alcohol and can damage the central nervous system with long-term alcohol dependence.

Most guys have experienced whiskey dick at least once in their lives but if you're worried about it happening again, keep on reading. We've got everything you need to know about whiskey dick, how to prevent it from happening and what to do if you're experiencing whiskey dick long-term.

What is whiskey dick?

The term whiskey dick is basically erectile dysfunction because of too much alcohol consumption when you can't get or maintain an erection.

Since alcohol is a depressant, it has a sedating effect on the central nervous system [1]. This means regular messages sent to the penis from the brain are inhibited and slowed down.

But contrary to what you might think, any kind of booze can impact your performance in the bedroom. Typically, the more you drink, the higher the chance of things not going to plan.

How long does it last?

There's nothing more uncomfortable than not being able to perform in the bedroom. So, you're probably wondering how long you can expect this to last.

First up, it's important to remember that alcohol-induced sexual dysfunction (a.k.a whiskey dick) is a temporary condition that typically goes away the next morning. But, temporary erectile dysfunction can become a long-term erectile dysfunction with persistent chronic heavy drinking.

Research shows that men with alcohol dependence have a 60-70% chance of having sexual dysfunction [2].

So, while things should return to normal programming once the alcohol leaves your system, there can be long-term performance impacts of heavy drinking.

How does alcohol affect my erections?

Alcohol consumption affects erections in a bunch of ways.

Alcohol has dehydrating effects, which decrease oxygen and blood flow to the penis making it harder to get an erection [3]. Dehydration also increases the hormone angiotensin — a hormone that's correlated with erectile dysfunction.

Long-term alcohol consumption and binge drinking alcohol will eventually cause damage to the nervous system [3]. The nervous system is responsible for triggering signals to the penis, so damaging it will cause long-term alcohol-induced sexual dysfunction.

Plus, when the central nervous system is depressed from drinking too much alcohol your reaction time, thinking abilities and functions have a slowing effect and that includes your brain sending signals to the penis too [4].

Alcohol-induced sexual dysfunction is also caused by lowered testosterone levels from too much alcohol which impacts sexual arousal, sexual performance and function [3].

How does alcohol affect other sexual functions

Drinking too much alcohol can impact your other sexual functioning aside from just not being able to get it up or keep it up. Alcohol can have an impact on:

  • Orgasms: Alcohol consumption can interfere between the signals from your brain to your penis which impacts your ability to feel stimulation. This may result in premature ejaculation or finding it difficult to ejaculate altogether.
  • Sex drive: Since alcohol lowers your testosterone levels, this can impact your sex drive, causing low libido.
  • Fertility: Lowered testosterone levels also lower your sperm count which has an impact on fertility [5].

How much alcohol intake triggers whiskey dick?

Your whiskey dick probably won't get triggered after 1 or 2 drinks at the pub. But, binge drinking alcohol and drinking too much can cause alcohol-induced sexual dysfunction.

One study found that moderate intake of alcohol (under 21 drinks per week) actually decreased the risk of developing erectile dysfunction [9].

Basically, a few drinks a week won't do much harm to your sexual performance but taking it too far with a night of binge drinking is much more likely to interfere with your plans in the bedroom.

Can alcohol withdrawal cause erectile dysfunction?

When you're first drinking alcohol, you tend to feel less anxious and more social. But, after a while, these good feelings can go away and you can experience alcohol withdrawal, particularly if you're a heavy drinker with alcohol dependence.

Generally speaking, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness
  • Mood swings
  • Harder to think clearly
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Increased heart rate
  • Appetite loss [6].

All of these symptoms can cause sexual dysfunction and impact your sexual performance, sexual functioning and sexual desire which can cause a temporary erectile dysfunction issue, particularly in the beginning stages of alcohol withdrawal.

What types of alcohol should I avoid?

Despite the name whiskey dick, alcohol-induced erectile dysfunction can happen from any type of alcohol.

So, to prevent whiskey dick, it's not really about what type of alcoholic drink to stay clear of and more about the amount of alcohol you're drinking. If you're worried about whiskey dick, you can still enjoy alcohol by drinking a couple of drinks or opt for non-alcoholic drinks.

The big thing to remember is that you can still enjoy booze in moderation. A schooner or 2 isn't likely to have a major impact on your performance. But if you're pounding down pints and smashing rounds of shots, you have a much higher chance of experiencing a few issues in the bedroom that night.

How can I bounce back in the moment?

If you're experiencing whiskey dick in the moment, the best thing you can do is relax and not freak out. Acute alcohol intoxication mixed with high stress is not going to make the situation better.

Communicate with your sexual partner and explain what's going on. After all, it happens to the best of us and people will understand your situation. If all else fails, you might have to change your plans in the bedroom for the evening.

How can I prevent whiskey dick next time?

Worried about not being able to get your rock-hard after a big night? One of the best things you can do to prevent whiskey dick is this: limit your booze intake.

If you want to feel your best in the bedroom, the less alcohol the better since alcohol is the only culprit involved in alcohol-induced erectile dysfunction.

You'll want to limit your alcoholic drinks to a couple for the night, drink slowly, drink alcohol with a lower alcohol content or choose non-alcoholic drinks to make sure blood flowing to the penis is still going to work and you can get and maintain an erection.

Also, make sure you're not drinking on an empty stomach as this can impact the way your body metabolises alcohol. Having food in your stomach while drinking can influence the absorption of alcohol, meaning food can dilute alcohol [7].

What if I repeatedly experience whiskey dick?

If you're experiencing long-term whiskey dick and it's persistently impacting your sexual performance, the best thing you can do is get professional medical advice to get to the bottom of any underlying physical and psychological causes.

There may be other factors at play that are causing erectile dysfunction including:

  • Physical reasons: Smoking, vaping, and other drugs can all contribute to erectile dysfunction. Plus, diabetes, heart disease and increased blood pressure are also factors that can impact normal erectile functioning.
  • Psychological reasons: Anxiety, high-stress levels and depression can all impact your sexual performance.
  • Medications: You might not even be aware that certain medications can cause erectile dysfunction including some antidepressants, blood pressure medications and sedatives can also impact your sexual function [8].

While it can be frustrating and upsetting, know that erectile dysfunction is incredibly common and the good news is it can be treated.

In case you're experiencing repeated sexual dysfunction, Pilot's ED treatment offers both daily and on-demand treatment for whatever your needs are. By seeking professional medical advice and treatment, 78% of men end up achieving lasting erections.

We also know that it can be scary to talk to your GP about your sexual performance or erectile function. That's why Pilot offers judgement-free treatment with online consultations with an Aussie practitioners plus discreet shipping so no matter when your whiskey dick occurs, you've got support behind you.

Ultimately, whiskey dick or alcohol-induced erectile dysfunction is caused by drinking too much and not really about the type of alcohol you're drinking.

The best way to significantly reduce the chance of whiskey dick is to limit how many drinks you're having, make sure to eat a good meal before you start drinking or switch to non-alcoholic drinks for the night.

Image credit: Getty Images

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