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It’s that time of the year again. We’re headed to the heart of Dezemba and everything that comes with it, from that long-awaited leave to letting your out-of-office keep an eye on your inbox. And then there are the late nights, the big parties, and the over indulgence. While it may feel great to let loose,those few extra drinks could catch up with you in the bedroom, where drugs and alcohol have been shown to negatively affect sexual performance.

The big-O? No

According to the Mayo Clinic, alcohol has more negative effects on sexual performance in men than in woman. This is due to the physiological effects of alcohol on the penis, making it difficult for a man to obtain and sustain an erection.Alcohol causes blood vessels to widen, and affect show blood reaches the penis. It is also a diuretic— making you need to urinate more often —and can lead to dehydration. According to the Mayo Clinic, this can result in increased levels of angiotensin, which is a hormone associated with erectile dysfunction.

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The big D…owner
In both men and women, alcohol acts as a depressant that negatively affects the nervous system. It affects blood circulation, respiration,and nerve receptors, physiological elements that play an important role in the ability to achieve orgasm. Increased blood-alcohol levels can make it more difficult for the brain to pick up and respond to sexual stimulation, which could make a sexual encounter wholly unsatisfying.The effects of alcohol for women are more specifically focused around the ability to have an orgasm. In a 2017 study, 55% of women diagnosed as alcohol-dependent experienced low sexual desire, while 52.5% reported an inability to orgasm.

A recipe for regrets

Drugs and alcohol can lower inhibitions and,in some cases, make you feel more confident than you may do sober. But the knock-on effect is making more rash decisions than you usually would. Drug and alcohol use can also result in poor sexual decisions, says professor Elna McIntosh, a clinical sexologist at Disa Clinic in Johannesburg. “Alcohol makes people far more likely to have (unsafe) sex… where people don’t take proper contraceptive precautions,” she says.It can also result in the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), due to unprotected sex or a lack of communication about one’s sexual health before having sex.

High and dry

According to a 2016 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, alcohol leads to impairments in sexual performance, reports Justin Lehmiller at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University. The study also found tha talcohol was linked to “erectile difficulties,vaginal dryness, and (sometimes) falling asleep during sex”.

However, McIntosh says, there have been instances where “a very small amount of alcohol” has been shown to extend the time that it takes a man to climax, thus combating any slight tendency to experience premature ejaculation.” However, she notes that alcohol is not a treatment for the condition, which requires medical intervention.

“Alcohol is a major cause of erectile dysfunction,” McIntosh says, and it is often overlooked in younger people because they believe that alcohol’s impact on increasing sexual desire will contribute to an all-night-long rendezvous. Usually not the case.

Pump the brakes
While it is possible to experience a few nights that fall short of your sexual expectations, having one too-many doesn’t mean the end of a fulfilling sex life. Like all things, moderation is crucial. Pacing how quickly you consume alcohol is the first step,and it goes hand-in-hand with drinking water.Balance every few drinks with a glass of water to minimise the effects of alcohol on your body —and on your performance in bed.
This article first appeared in print in the Sowetan S Mag December 2018 edition.
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