The damaging effects of alcohol on the body are well documented: overindulgence can put us at a higher risk of developing cancer, high blood pressure, liver disease and dementia, to name but a few conditions. Alcohol also affects sexual function, and for men, this can lead to problems getting or maintaining an erection.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) has many causes, and it’s always best to consult a doctor to check if there are any serious underlying health problems that need addressing. Erections require a good supply of blood to the penis, and a problem in this area is often a sign that there is something amiss with the other functions of the body.
If your doctor does not diagnose a serious health problem, you may be advised to make some lifestyle changes, including cutting back on drinking. This is because too much alcohol can lower the production of testosterone, which is the male sex hormone. It also slows the nerve signals to the brain which cause blood to flow to the penis.
However, lowering alcohol intake can sometimes be easier said than done, especially if it has become an ingrained habit to pour a glass of wine or beer after work, or drink heavily with friends at the weekend. Here are some simple ways to help cut down.
Always eat before drinking
When we drink on an empty stomach, the alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream more quickly and this can soon lead to lightheadedness and a lowering of inhibitions. This can reduce our willpower to resist another drink, and one or two turns into three or four.
Eating a meal before drinking helps to slow down the absorption of alcohol, making it easier to manage your consumption levels.
Try low-alcohol versions of your favourite drink
Sometimes, just the taste of our favourite drink can be enough to make you feel as though you are not missing out. Low or no alcohol drinks have come a long way in the last few years, and they can taste just as sophisticated as regular versions. They are widely available in supermarkets, pubs and restaurants.
Alternate alcoholic drinks with water
Alcohol dehydrates the body, and this leads to the urge to drink more. Drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic drink will help to counteract some of the effects of dehydration, which can cause that horrible hangover feeling of headache, tiredness, and nausea. It will also slow down the rate at which you consume alcohol.
Use diversionary tactics
Drinking with friends can become a social habit that is hard to break, especially if some of your friends are prone to binge drinking (consuming more than 6-8 units of alcohol in one session.)
If you drink to help yourself relax in social situations, remember that the effect is very temporary and you will ultimately end up feeling more anxious in the long term. Try and have some alternative activities on some nights of the week, such as going to the gym or cinema.
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