Can alcohol cause performance problems in the bedroom?

Monday, May 7, 2007
For a lot of us a good night out usually means that we'll have a few drinks. After a couple, you feel more attractive and after another couple, suddenly everyone else looks more attractive too.

But does your mind write cheques your body can't cash?

Yes, we're talking about brewer's droop. As Shakespeare wrote, alcohol "provokes the desire but takes away the performance."

Is he right? We're putting it to the test.

The test

"Brewer's droop is the phenomenon of impaired sexual function as a result of alcohol consumption," says sexologist and author Gabrielle Morrissey. She says brewer's droop is a very real problem for men who drink too much.

"If you go just a little bit too far in your alcohol consumption, then everything goes haywire, everything gets depressed and the sexual arousal system basically just bottoms out and there's very little function, very little arousal and not a good result."

Well, let's put that to the test — our players are Alan and Tiger from Melbourne, and Bear and Julie from the Gold Coast.

Bear is a former Manpower stripper and he's hoping he can still entertain his wife Julie when he's had a few drinks.

Julie: He doesn't experience brewer's droop, it actually goes the opposite direction with him.
Bear: She's like 'hurry up man'.

Bear's not a big drinker and Julie's not expecting a big drop off.

"We're going to go out and we're going to have a few drinks and probably a couple more drinks than he normally has and I think he'll get a 10 out of 10," says Julie.

Ten out of 10 is a big call, so Bear's got a lot to live up to!

In Melbourne, Alan and Tiger are also on the town. For Tiger, it could prove a real education.

"Well it's very funny, I've heard of it as most men have in life, but my dear wife here has never heard the term. She didn't know brewers droop or what it meant, in fact when I told her she nearly wet herself laughing," says Alan.

More so, because she knows Alan's only an occasional drinker so he won't have to work too hard to get primed for this experiment.

Alan has to drink enough to score over the limit on the breathaliser.

When we check in with our Gold Coast couple, Julie and Bear, Julie's also having a drink too, but she's promised to have less so that she can judge his performance properly. A third beer should put Bear over the limit and ready to take part in our test.

Back in Melbourne Alan's certainly under the influence and it's time he and Tiger headed home.

"In thirteen years this is the most alcohol I've seen you consume," says Tiger.

Will his drinking affect his performance in bed?


In Queensland, Julie felt the pressure of taking part in such an important experiment.

Julie: It was a good night but nerve-wracking at the same time.
Bear: I think it was more intense actually being at the pub drinking.

So what marks did Julie give Bear?

"He got a nine, not quite a 10, but a nine."

No surprise there for our sexologist, Gabrielle: "If she gives him 10 out of 10 in bed normally and then takes him out drinking, there's probably no where to go but down."

It's the morning after and Alan and Tiger have found their way to a local café for a heart starter.

And doesn't he need it after last night!

"By the time we had the cab ride home, I think the alcohol was starting to affect me fairly heavily. I just wandered into the house, sat down on the couch and the next thing I remember is waking up at 2am and thinking 'if I don't do some sort of performance this is going to be on national television'," says Alan.

"The only difference was his personality — he was probably a bit more amorous vocally," says Tiger.

Tiger says that once he woke up again, Alan was as good as always. But if he kept on drinking regularly, he'd soon be on the downhill path in the downstairs department.

"In fact erectile dysfunction can increase with age, so it will affect men in particular, if they're lifelong drinkers, later on in life," says Gabrielle.

There's a host of psychological and physiological factors, which can also bring a guy down and they usually require medical intervention.

"There is a solution, it just takes seeing the right person with the right knowledge to be able give the right answer that's tailored to that person's situation," Gabrielle says.

But a final word on brewers droop — a Harvard University study found that the problem is way more likely if you're a heavy drinker or a total abstainer. It's least likely to happen to moderate drinkers.

Which, luckily for Alan, is just how Tiger likes it.

Tiger: I think I prefer my husband when he's had two glasses of wine, not 20.
Alan: I don't think I'll be using it as any sort of method in getting myself a better love-making life — which would be hard anyway!

So there you go, as usual where drinking's concerned, moderation pays — even in the bedroom.

Fast facts

  • Many men need a few drinks before they have the courage to chat up women. But does alcohol give the girls 'liquid courage' too? No it doesn't. A study comparing abstainers, moderate and heavy drinkers, showed that women were more likely to be bolder when they hadn't been drinking.

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