“Whiskey Dick” AKA Alcohol-Related Erectile Dysfunction: Why Does It Happen and How To Treat It?

It’s a Friday night with you and your partner spending the better part of the evening indulging in a few (or several) boozy drinks. Alcohol has gifted you with some newly found confidence, removing your inhibitions and finally getting rid of bedroom jitters. However when the moment comes to take it to the bedroom and finally do the deed, you find it hard to, well, get hard.

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If you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation, you might have experienced a case of the dreaded “whiskey dick”, otherwise known as Alcohol-Related Erectile Dysfunction, in which alcohol (not necessarily just whiskey) has inhibited your ability to get and hold an erection. In a study done by the University of Washington, researchers found that men who were sober were able to get and keep an erection at a quicker rate compared to men who had been drinking alcohol, with some intoxicated men being unable to keep an erection at all. In this article, we will be explaining what exactly is “whiskey dick”, why it causes erectile dysfunction, and offer you some ways to treat and prevent alcohol-related erectile dysfunction from happening.

What Is “Whiskey” Dick And What Causes It?

So why does having one drink too many cause you to be unable to get and keep an erection? 

This is because alcohol is classified as a Central Nervous System (CNS) depressant which can interfere with the brain’s chemical messaging, causing it to slow down and affect your different parts of your body, including your penis. Getting and maintaining an erection requires adequate blood flow, however should you be inebriated with too much alcohol in your system, the body will redirect its energies to processing the alcohol rather than getting and keeping hard. 

Combine the inability to get hard with the side effects of alcohol such as difficulties focusing and diminished hand-eye coordination, all of which make for a lacklustre sexual experience, hence the colloquial name of “whiskey dick” coming into play. 

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How Much Alcohol Does It Take To Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

It is difficult to determine how many units of alcohol it takes to trigger “whiskey dick”. This is due to the varying factors that could affect how your body processes alcohol, such as: 

  • Your body composition 
  • Your alcohol tolerance
  • How many drink you’ve had (and the ABV of your drinks) 
  • Whether you had a meal before drinking and how hydrated you are
  • Whether you’re currently taking any other medication that could affect it

These factors also make it hard to determine how long alcohol-related erectile dysfunction will last, as it solely depends on your body’s ability to process and metabolise the alcohol. 

How To Treat And Prevent “Whiskey Dick”

While abstaining from alcohol is obviously the best way at preventing the dreaded “whiskey dick”, should you still want to partake in a few cheeky brews, here are some ways to help minimise both intoxication and erectile dysfunction: 

  • Be aware of the ABV of your drinks and set a limit for how many drinks you consume
  • Ensure that you are keeping hydrated, and if possible, alternate between drinking alcohol and water
  • Sip your drinks slowly, instead of chugging drinks
  • Eating a meal or snack before drinking can help curb intoxication 

Other Ways Of Dealing With “Whiskey Dick”

Even though it might be embarrassing and awkward when “whiskey dick” rears its head at the worst time and might make you want to flee altogether, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the fun has to stop. 

Communicating honestly with your partner and using other techniques that don’t require an erection (such as oral sex and ergoenous play) are good ways to keep the night going. 

It is completely understandable that you feel frustrated when your partner is experiencing alcohol-induced erectile dysfunction. However it is important to be understanding and not take whiskey dick personally as it is not a reflection of your partner’s lack of attraction and love towards you. Having trouble getting hard is a natural biological response to having consumed too much alcohol. 

Attempts to try and get them hard might make your partner feel worse about the situation. Instead, should both of you be in the mood to continue, let your partner take the lead and experiment with other sex techniques. 

Binge Drinking And Its Effect On Erectile Dysfunction

Being unable to get hard after drinking a bit too much is a completely natural thing and it shouldn’t be something to worry about for the most part. That said, overindulging in drinks and even partaking in binge drinking that spans years could not only cause whiskey dick to occur more frequently, it can even cause damage to your sexual health. Besides potentially affecting your ability to hold an erection permanently, binge drinking can also cause hormonal imbalances, decrease testosterone levels, lower your libido and cause premature ejaculation. 

If you experience difficulties getting an erection when you drink a small amount of alcohol or when sober, experience other sexual dysfunction (like premature ejaculation) or any other concerning symptoms,  it is advisable that you consult a doctor. Here at Noah, our doctors are best equipped with the knowledge to help you ascertain the root cause of your erectile dysfunction.  They will be able to advise you on the best ED treatment suited for you, and can also prescribe you the right medication should you need it.  


George, William H et al. “Alcohol and erectile response: the effects of high dosage in the context of demands to maximize sexual arousal.” Experimental and clinical psychopharmacology vol. 14,4 (2006): 461-70. doi:10.1037/1064-1297.14.4.461 (Link

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Published On
June 7, 2021

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