The situation looks something like this: You’re out with your boo, and the drinks are flowing. As you grind on the dance floor and do a few shots, you’re feeling decidedly more frisky. Somewhere between your third drink and that Cardi B song you love, you decide your date is definitely coming home with you.
Once you get there, you are both ready and willing to get in the groove. Unfortunately, your body is not as enthusiastic as your brain. You still want to have sex, but no matter how much you rub your clitoris, it is down for the count. You’re on an endless plateau and no orgasms can be found.
Alcohol has loosened your inhibitions, but it has also taken the wind out of your sails. The situation is … not great.
So, why do we drink when we’re out partying, on dates, or with hanging with friends? What impact does alcohol have on sex, orgasm, and libido? Here is what we know.
Alcohol can act as social lubricant
While alcohol and sex don’t always mix well, it can act as a social lubricant, easing tension in social situations. When you’re trying to get some action, a couple of drinks can make the initial awkwardness less overwhelming, “The only possibilities for positive effects is for alcohol to create a feeling of less self-consciousness and to reduce inhibitions,” says Felice Gersh, M.D., OB/GYN, and founder/director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, CA.
This is why we often feel sexy and in the mood after we’ve had a couple glasses of wine, our nerves are settled and we feel freer. “For women, moderate alcohol intake may increase libido and reduce anxiety or inhibitions toward sex,” adds Dr. Anika Ackerman, MD, a New Jersey based urologist.
Boozy vaginas are dry vaginas
Have you ever heard of Whiskey Vagina? This charming term (popularized by yours truly) refers to when you’ve had too much to drink. You start fooling around, and suddenly realize your vagina is not in on this game. Your drunk brain might be saying, “YES! I WANT TO GET IT!” but your vagina is not having it.
“Alcoholic beverages do have a negative impact on the development of sexual health,” Gersh says. “[It] can impact vital female sexual functions, such as the creation of vaginal moisture, by impacting the autonomic nervous system.”
In short, alcohol might calm you down by affecting the nervous system, but it will also dry you out for the same reasons.
Alcohol can inhibit orgasm
Drinking is all fun and games until you can’t have an orgasm. Not only has alcohol been shown to decrease natural vaginal lubrication, it increase issues with erection in men and destroys orgasm. “Alcohol can increase impotence and reduce the ability to orgasm and their intensity,” Gersh tells us.
Again, this is due to the negative impact alcohol has on the nervous system, a vital component in orgasm. Gersh says that without a normally functioning nervous system, orgasm might be off the table entirely.
Not to mention, the drunker you get, the sloppier and less coordinated you become. “The more inebriated a person becomes the more impaired they become,” Gersh says. This is both not particularly cute and overall super dangerous, especially if you’re going home with someone for the first time.
Alcohol complicates consent
Another critically important factor in this situation is consent. When you’re drunk, you don’t have ability to consent to sexual activity, according to the law. What’s more, you may be too impaired to even remember what happened the night before at all. Perhaps you didn’t even want to have sex, but were too drunk to say no. These are dark implications, but ones that need to be addressed. Sex an alcohol are a dangerous combination. And consent is an ongoing conversation.
It’s about moderation
If you want to have a glass or two of wine, that’s perfectly OK. Having a drink won’t harm you. It’s when you start pounding shots or take a bottle of wine to the face that your sex life (and life in general) will suffer consequences. So keep tabs on your intake and don’t overdo it. If you have issues with controlling your alcohol intake or have had struggles with abuse, it’s best stay away from alcohol altogether.
In the end, alcohol is a big part of our social system, but when it comes to sex, the negative effects seem to outweigh any positive aspects. If you’re trying to have a screaming orgasm tonight, stay away from the bottle.