A survey conducted by Pharma Dynamics found that 44% of SA men could be at risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) as a result of excessive drinking.
Clinical studies suggest that three or more standard alcoholic drinks per week significantly impairs erectile function and sexual satisfaction. A sobering thought, since more than 31% of SA males already consume over and above five standard glasses of alcohol per week and 13% toss back at least three glasses a week on a regular basis.
According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) latest report on alcohol and health, South Africa has the highest alcohol consumption rate in Africa, and one of the highest in the world, which doesn’t bode well for a healthy sex life.
And with the party season almost in full swing in homes, offices, restaurants and bars throughout the country, alcoholic drinks will be flowing more freely than usual.
Tumi Motsei, spokesperson for the company says this doesn’t necessarily mean men need to cut back completely, but it is important to remember that sex and alcohol are a delicate balancing act.
“Even though a few drinks kicks in the mood, it doesn’t improve performance. Men who are under the influence of alcohol may feel more sexual, more willing and have a stronger desire to seek out a sexual experience, but alcohol actually hampers your sexual performance. The liver can only break down the amount of alcohol in about one standard size drink an hour, so regularly drinking more than that means that toxins from alcohol can build up in your body and affect your organs, including those involved in sex. Men who are dependent on alcohol have a 60 – 70% chance of suffering from sexual problems,” says Motsei.
Alcohol abuse is also the leading cause of erectile dysfunction, which currently affects 4 in every 10 South African men – young and old.
Motsei warns that men with ED are twice as likely to have a heart attack, 10% more likely to have a stroke and 20% more likely to be admitted to hospital with heart failure.
“In fact, impotence is an early warning sign that cardiovascular disease (CVD) may be looming. ED caused by narrowed arteries commonly develops years before any symptoms or problems of CVD, hypertension or diabetes become apparent.
“Even though popular medications such as PDE5-inhibitors have been described as ‘magic pills’ that will allow erections to take place spontaneously, it is important to understand that ED is a complex condition that should be tackled by modifying one’s lifestyle first and foremost. This means cutting back on alcohol and smoking, while following a healthy diet and exercise routine,” she says.
But if you’re at a bash and there’s social pressure to drink, it can be difficult to cut back. Motsei suggests several good ways to reduce the impact of alcoholic drinks, especially this time of year when parties abound.
1. Try to eat something high in protein or fat first, then wait 15 minutes before drinking. These foods line the stomach and sponge up the alcohol, slowing its absorption.
2. Dilute your drinks with lots of ice and water to lower the concentration of alcohol.
3. Stay away from carbonated mixes, as these speed the absorption of alcohol because the bubbles create pressure that pushes the liquid through the stomach wall.
4. Wine and beer are absorbed less rapidly than hard liquor because they contain non-alcoholic substances that slow absorption.
5. Avoid salty snacks since they increase thirst which will encourage you to drink more and faster.
“Don’t let alcohol spoil your holiday sex or even next year’s or the next decade’s sexual activity,” says Motsei.
“If you've experienced a lack of sexual desire, premature ejaculation, relationship problems, or erectile dysfunction because of mixing alcohol and sex, consider making an appointment with your doctor and/or re-evaluating your lifestyle.”