Viagra, ED, and Alcoholic Drinks

Part 1 of 5: Overview
Effects on ED
Sildenafil citrate (Viagra) offers the hope of a healthy and satisfying sex life to men who suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED). However, there are some things you might not want to mix with the pleasures of Viagra. Alcohol is high on the list. But not for the reasons you might think.

Part 2 of 5: What Is ED?
Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is defined as the inability to get and maintain an erection sufficient for sexual function. All men occasionally have trouble getting an erection, and the likelihood of this problem increases with age. If it happens to you frequently, however, you may have ED.

Get the facts on five ED pill treatment options. Learn how they work, which work best, and who they’re for »

An erection is a great example of the complexity of the human body. The erection actually starts in your head when arousal creates signals in your brain that travel to other parts of your body. Your heart rate and blood flow increase. Chemicals are triggered that enable blood to flow into hollow chambers in the penis, creating an erection. With ED, however, an enzyme called protein phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) interferes with this chemical process. As a result, there is no increase in blood flow to the arteries in your penis, which prevents you from getting an erection.

A number of things are responsible for ED, including:

age
diabetes
medications, including diuretics, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants
diseases such as multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, or Parkinson’s disease
high blood pressure
peripheral vascular disease
cancerous prostate removal
depression
anxiety
smoking
use of illegal drugs
chronic alcohol use
Part 3 of 5: Using Viagra
How Viagra Works
Before Viagra was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998, there were no pills you could take to treat ED. The drug was originally intended to be used to treat high blood pressure and chest pain, but clinical trials found it was not as effective as medications already on the market. However, study participants clamored for refills because of an unusual side effect — a significant increase in erections.

Viagra (sildenafil citrate) works by blocking PDE5. This is the enzyme that interferes with the chemicals responsible for the increase of blood flow to the penis during an erection. Weill Cornell Medical College reports that Viagra and other PDE5 inhibitors work for approximately 65 percent of men who try them.

Part 4 of 5: With Alcohol
A Little Blue Pill, Jug of Wine, and Thou
For many people, romance means candlelight, soft music, and a glass of wine. The little blue pill, Viagra, can be part of this picture — if you’re drinking small or moderate amounts of alcohol.

Although research has been limited, there’s no clear indication that the risks associated with alcohol use are made worse by Viagra. A study published in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics found no adverse reactions between Viagra and red wine.

Alcohol in moderation appears safe when you’re taking Viagra. But there’s a much bigger issue with combining Viagra and alcohol. Chronic alcohol use is a common cause of sexual dysfunction. It’s so common, in fact, that a slang term for ED in Britain is “brewer’s droop.” So while you’re battling a problem with a pill, you may be doing yourself a disservice by combining it with alcohol.

Scientists at Loyola University reviewed 25 years of research on the effects of alcohol use on the male reproductive system. Some of their findings are included below. Remember, these effects have to do with alcohol in general, not specifically due to combining Viagra with alcohol. However, in treating sexual dysfunction, you may want to take these effects of alcohol into consideration.

Testosterone and Estrogen

Both binge drinking and chronic alcohol use reduce testosterone levels and increase estrogen levels. Why is this important? Testosterone, which in men is produced in the testes, has a role in many biological functions in the body. It’s also the male hormone most closely linked to male sexuality. Testosterone is responsible for the development of sexual organs and sperm.

Although estrogen is produced mainly in the female ovaries, it’s also present in men. Estrogen is associated with development of female sexual characteristics and reproduction.

If you’re a man and you consume more than a moderate amount of alcohol, reduced testosterone levels combined with higher levels of estrogen may feminize your body, potentially resulting in enlarged breasts and loss of body hair.

Testicles

Alcohol is toxic to the testicles. Over time the testicles can atrophy, or shrink. This reduces the volume and quality of sperm.

Prostate

Alcohol abuse can lead to prostatitis, an inflammation of the prostate gland. Symptoms of prostatitis may include swelling, pain, problems with urination, and sexual dysfunction.

Part 5 of 5: Outlook
Keeping the Goal in Mind
If you have ED, you’re far from alone. The Urology Care Foundation says that between 15 and 30 million men in the United States have ED. Talk with your doctor about it. There are many options for treating the disorder.

As for mixing Viagra and alcohol, a glass of wine may help you relax and enhance your sexual encounter. But in general, moderate or heavy alcohol use is counterproductive to the reason you take Viagra in the first place.

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