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Sexual Dysfunction and Alcoholism

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How Does Alcoholism Contribute To Sexual Dysfunction?

Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive disease influenced by environmental, psychological, and genetic factors—it’s characterized by a person’s obsession, and compulsion to drink alcohol, and inability to stop; despite harmful consequences.

Progressive means that the ability to moderate alcohol consumption becomes worse over time. Alcoholism is both mentally and physically addictive; whereby a person becomes preoccupied with alcohol; and focuses less attention on their life; and the people in it.

How Does Alcohol Lead To Sexual Problems?

In American culture, a lot of people enjoy a glass of wine, or another libation to loosen up, or “set the mood.” The problem is that alcohol is actually a depressant, and drinking a lot of it decreases sexual desire, and dampens the mood. For this reason, heavy drinking proportionately increases the risk of sexual dysfunction.

The biggest problem is that even though a small amount of alcohol has the potential to contribute to sexual desire, it can decrease sexual performance at the same time. In both men and women, alcohol can cause an inability to climax during sex.

Sexual dysfunction encompasses the following areas:

  • Sexual Pain Disorder – Pain from intercourse. These are almost exclusively experienced by women, and occur when sexual intercourse causes intense pain. Many women attempt to mask the pain with alcohol, then become dependent upon it, which only makes the condition worse. In a lot of cases, pain disorders result from deep-seated anxiety, sensitivity, or fear.
  • Sexual Arousal Disorder – Inability to become physically aroused during sexual activity. In men, this is more commonly referred to as erectile dysfunction. Arousal disorders are among the most common problems reported by those suffering from alcoholism.
  • Decreased Sexual Desire – Lack of interest in sex. This is considered a loss of libido, which is sexual energy, excitement, and desire. Heavy drinking can exhaust a person’s desire to do anything; including sex. The depression-like symptoms of alcoholism often lead to apathy and can make sex seem like more of a chore than intimacy with one’s partner.
  • Orgasm Disorder – Delayed, premature, or inability to orgasm. Women may have an inability to orgasm while intoxicated. Men with alcoholism often experience premature, non-existent, or delayed ejaculation. Orgasm disorders can result from anxiety and tend to co-occur with alcoholism—which is also known to increase anxiety.
  • Sexual Aversion Disorder – A strong dislike or disinclination of sexual activities. Sexual aversion disorders tend to result in avoidance of any kind of genital sexual contact and can result in a relationship, and other interpersonal problems.

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Alcoholism And Sexual Dysfunction Occurs In Both Men And Women

It’s pretty safe to say that at this point, most of us understand that alcoholism knows no gender, demographics, age, status, or race—neither does sexual dysfunction. Sexual problems are, however, more likely to happen in people over 40 years old; whereas alcoholism can occur at any age. Additionally, sexual dysfunction occurs differently in men and women.

How Does Alcohol Affect Women Sexually?

In women suffering from alcoholism “the most common forms of sexual dysfunction observed include dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse), high rates of genitourinary health problems, and low vaginal lubrication, revealing problems with sexual arousal” (National Library of Medicine).

Furthermore, women with alcoholism and vaginismus (sexual pain disorder) have relapsed and used alcohol to deal with their sexual dysfunction The same can true for other women who use alcohol to achieve sexual excitement or relaxation during sex.

From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “binge drinking is a risk factor for sexual assault, especially among young women in college settings. Each year, about 1 in 20 college women are sexually assaulted. Research suggests that there is an increase in the risk of rape or sexual assault when both the attacker and victim have used alcohol prior to the attack.”

How Does Alcohol Affect Men Sexually?

Alcohol use is the leading cause of impotence and other disturbances in sexual dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction in men addicted to alcohol is fairly common but found to be significantly higher in men consuming more than 3 standard units of alcohol daily, and in subjects smoking more than 10 cigarettes per day.

Not only that, “excessive alcohol use can interfere with testicular function and male hormone production resulting in impotence, infertility, and reduction of male secondary sex characteristics such as facial and chest hair” (CDC).

Similar to experiences by women, “excessive alcohol use is commonly involved in sexual assault. Also, alcohol use by men increases the chances of engaging in risky sexual activity including unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, or sex with a partner at risk for sexually transmitted diseases.”

Can Sexual Dysfunction And Alcoholism Result In Divorce?

Alcohol use is one of the top 10 reasons marriages end in the United States. Sexual dysfunction due to alcoholism only makes it that much worse. It can lead to an inability for a man or woman to complete their agreement in marriage, and as a result, they lose their spouse to alcohol.

In a study by the National Library of Medicine, “it is evident that sex-related factors and sexual dysfunctions are related to divorce seeking behavior and contributed to 22% cases.” Similarly, from a separate field study by NLM, “a consumption increase of 1 liter of alcohol per capita brings about an increase in the divorce rate of about 20%.”

Unfortunately, when given the opportunity to quit, a lot of men and women suffering alcoholism are unable to walk away from it. In marriage, it usually comes down to a decision, it’s either me or the alcohol…

The problem with alcoholism is that drinking alcohol actually becomes a person’s perceived purpose; it becomes a complete obsession with alcohol. When given the choice, so many men and women fail to see that if they continue drinking, they might lose the person they’re supposed to spend the rest of their life with, and because of their obsession with alcohol, they have no idea.

What Is Considered Good Sexual Health?

The World Health Organization defines sexual health as a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence.

It gets better. You can overcome alcoholism, and have a full-life and meaningful relationship as a result. There are a lot of different suggested approaches to help you strengthen your sexual health; some of those suggestions include:

  • Exercise
  • Lose weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Learn to maintain healthy relationships
  • Marriage counseling
  • Focus on your mental health
  • Learn to handle stress
  • Overcome anxiety
  • Attend alcohol rehab
  • Recover from alcoholism

With an individualized (dual diagnosis) treatment at an alcohol rehab center, all of these suggestions can become a reality. So many men and women don’t believe that they can overcome alcoholism, but that is so far from the truth. There might not always be a cure for addiction, but there is a treatment. Find yours today.

Find The Right Treatment To Overcome Alcoholism

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol use or addiction contact a treatment specialist today. We will help you find the right alcohol treatment program that suits your needs. All calls are 100 percent confidential.