A stiff one turns soft

Liquor and love

There’s no doubt the bond between alcohol and sex is one of the more storied love/hate relationships in all of history—equaling that of Hamlet and Ophelia or Sam and Diane. Who will debate that a few drinks will make you feel sexually important while a few more will turn your importance to impotence? Yet despite the need for an uneasy balance, alcohol still plays a large role in the human mating ritual. But is it a wise idea to mix shots with sheets?

Shakespeare once wrote that alcohol “provokes the desire, but takes away the performance.” And he couldn’t have been closer to the truth. In small doses, alcohol can do wonders in procuring you a late-night partner. Beyond the relaxation and confidence that a stiff one—a drink, that is—can bring, Cory Silverberg notes that alcohol also has an expectancy effect on drinkers. Silverberg’s article on About.com states, “In studies where people have been given drinks that were non-alcoholic but told they contained alcohol, researchers have found that participants report increased sexual arousal similar to those who actually consumed alcohol. If you think you’re going to be more comfortable and more open to sexual stimulation, you may in fact be more open.”

Alcohol is known for its powers as a social lubricant, and when it comes to sex, there’s nothing wrong with a little extra lube. But too much just make things sloppy and awkward.

In larger doses the social side effects of being a stumbling, drooling drunk pretty much deter any potential mates from being interested. However, if you are able to bumble your way into the apartment of someone with obviously low standards, don’t get your hopes up. The Alcoholism Sourcebook reports, “Impotence is common among … chronic drinkers.” It goes on to say that prolonged drinking can result in an “increased ratio of free estrogen to free testosterone, worsening age-related decline in testosterone.” A Virginia Tech study on the effects of alcohol on the mind and body found that “While a few drinks might temporarily dull inhibitions and anxiety about sexual activity, larger doses will lead to loss of sensation, inability to reach orgasm, and temporary impotence.”

All this may be an embarrassingly excusable effect of having one too many, but the reality can be a lot uglier—and inexcusable. For some alcohol can act as a coercive force. Matthew Saylor, the Community Liason at Reno’s West Hills Hospital, says, “Females can’t break down alcohol as quickly as men because they lack a specific enzyme. A lot of sex crimes take place because of that. … Women are going to lose consciousness quicker.” Saylor points out that while meeting over a drink is one thing, giving someone alcohol to better your chances of having sex with them is borderline criminal.

Alcohol is a temperamental lover. One night she can have you screaming in euphoric ecstasy, the next you’re scorned for inadequacies. Do you really want to bring something so unpredictable home for a ménage à trois?