Education, Health, and Safety

How to Beat ‘Whiskey Dick,’ Explained

What You Need to Know About Conquering Alcohol-Induced ED

Alcohol is, if not an indispensable part of romance, certainly one that some would struggle without. However, though its ability to loosen people’s inhibitions can make for seriously fun times, too much booze can also have adverse effects. 

Beyond just making you say things you shouldn’t have and making it dangerous for you to drive, booze can also seriously mess with your experience in bed.

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It’s a condition known colloquially as “whiskey dick,“ and it’s the source of frustration and embarrassment for guys who’ve had a few drinks too many.

Regardless of whether you’ve experienced it before, or you’re trying to ensure it never happens to you, AskMen spoke with a few experts in the field (and one guy who admitted to experiencing it) to get the lowdown on all things whiskey dick: what it is, why it happens and how to get rid of it if you have it. 

What Is Whiskey Dick?

“‘Whiskey dick’ is the (non-medical) term for when you get completely pissed-drunk and cannot perform sexually,” says Dr. Koushik Shaw of the Austin Urology Institute. “While one or two drinks might give you a confidence boost and put some wind in your sails, too many will take the wood out of your rudder. Booze is a nervous system depressant, and if you depress it too much, you won’t be able to perform at all.”

And despite the name, whiskey dick doesn’t actually have anything to do with drinking whiskey per se.

“This is dependent on the amount of alcohol, not the type,” explains Shaw. “So switching from whiskey to vodka will not help you here.”

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Who Is Affected by Whiskey Dick?

Lots of guys probably imagine that issues getting and staying hard are the province of older men, but while erection issues are often associated somewhat (though not entirely) with age, whiskey dick makes no such distinctions.

“Any sexually active individual [with a penis] who consumes alcohol is putting themselves at risk of whiskey dick,” says Shaw. 

Beyond that, it’s not a question of how much alcohol you consume in terms of number of drinks, volume of liquid or alcohol by volume percentage, but rather what your personal alcohol tolerance is with regards to erectile function. 

“Everyone is different, so it can occur with a little alcohol in your system or when you’re falling down drunk,” says Kayla Lords, a sexpert for “Maybe you can get hard, but you can’t stay that way. Maybe the mind is willing, but the body won’t cooperate.”

Some guys might drink relatively little and find themselves affected, while some might drink a lot and experience no impact on their erection. However, broadly speaking, whiskey dick is unlikely to occur unless you’ve consumed more than you normally do. That means you probably don’t need to worry about a single drink hampering your ability to get hard. 

How to Handle Experiencing Whiskey Dick

In the moment leading up to sex, it can be hard to know the proper response to whiskey dick. Of course, the fact that you’re most likely inebriated means that your normal decision-making skills might be impacted somewhat, but even struggling to maintain an erection while sober can be a seriously tricky process. Why? 

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Well, that’s primarily due to how your nervous system interacts with your ability to achieve erection. The human nervous system is typically in one of two modes: the sympathetic nervous system, where you’re stressed out and ready to act at a moment’s notice in response to threats, and the parasympathetic nervous system, where you’re relaxed and able to enjoy yourself. 

While alcohol consumption typically helps you stay in the parasympathetic realm, meaning yes to erections, if you drink so much that you start struggling to get or maintain one, you might get anxious and flip over to the sympathetic realm, meaning you’ll have an even more difficult time staying hard. 

To Shaw, the answer is simple: “Apologize profusely and sleep it off.”

“Once you’ve overdone it, there’s no way to get un-drunk,” he says. Going to sleep is a great way to fast-forward through that process, essentially — you could wake up in the morning and be ready to go. 

Pleasing Your Partner While Experiencing Whiskey Dick

However, if you or your partner aren’t willing to wait that long, there are other options on the table. 

“Regardless of what you might think, dicks aren’t always required for sexual pleasure,” says Lords. “Penetration isn’t the only way to have sex, either. If you’re dealing with whiskey dick, focus on your partner’s pleasure using your hands, mouth, entire body, and even sex toys. Perform oral. Use their favorite vibrator or dildo. Touch their body.” 

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That’s advice that resonated to Erik, 31, someone who had firsthand experience with whiskey dick: 

“My first date with my now-girlfriend, I got a bit drunker than I was intending to, and between that and the anxiety when I couldn’t open the condom, I absolutely couldn’t get or stay hard. In order to keep the sexy mood going, I decided to just go down on her for an hour or so. She must have enjoyed it because the next morning she asked if I was free that night for round two — and we’ve been dating ever since. That’s not the storybook way you hope first-time sex will go, but it worked out pretty perfectly in the end. I think most guys seriously overestimate the importance of penetration when it comes to their partner’s pleasure.”

If You Experience Whiskey Dick Often

In a single instance, whiskey dick isn’t a huge deal. Whether you opt for non-penetrative sexual options or simply try to sleep it off, it doesn’t necessarily indicate that there’s anything wrong with you or that amount of alcohol you consume. 

However, if you notice it happening repeatedly, that might be a cause for some concern. 

“Repeated instances might warrant a trip to a urologist,” explains Shaw. “While the obvious solution is to drink less, there might be other factors at play. I see this often with guys who suffer from performance anxiety. A few drinks help reduce fear and trepidation before getting into the sack, but ultimately it might cause the very result he was afraid of.”

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