Sex. Nothing beats having that intimate moment with a significant other or someone from the bar. This intimate connection can be awesome, or it can be downright horrible. Factors that make the scale move up or down include smoking, medications and alcohol.

“When people drink, it makes them make some choices that usual aren’t in their sober train of thought,” Kathleen Camelo, director and doctor at Plattsburgh’s State Health Center, said.

PSUC senior Robyn Greenfield said that when drinking, lines start to blur and grey areas appear.

“People aren’t going to think about birth control or condoms when the alcohol starts to take over,” she said.

Camelo said when there is alcohol in a person’s system, he or she could perceive inaccurate signs from their sex partner.

“Alcohol consumption gives, both, a mental and physical affect to the body,” she said.

Camelo said that when people drink, they might feel as though the alcohol reduces anxiety and makes them feel more confident.

“They aren’t wrong. Alcohol can do that to the body, but only in small quantities,” she said.

Some people believe that as the alcohol consumption increases, the substance starts to have aphrodisiac effects, which is when a food, drink or drug stimulates sexual desire on the brain, according to a Huffington Post article. However, after one or two drinks, this euphoria people feel fades away as the alcohol starts to inhibit parts of the central nervous system that are important for sexual arousal and orgasms.

Jennifer Berman, a urologist and female sexual health expert who sat down with Buzzfeed recently said, “Those sexual curiosities and desires already exist inside your head, and when you drink they can come to the surface, because the parts of your brain which tell you ‘No that’s not a good idea’ or ‘I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that’ are shutting down.”

“When alcohol enters the blood system, it starts to dehydrate the body,” Camelo said.

Sexual arousal needs a certain volume of blood to bring oxygen and greater sensation to the genitals, hence erections for men and lubrication in women. With less volume of liquid in the body, and with an inhibited nervous system, the body struggles with sexual performance.

In males, large amounts of alcohol or long-term substance abuse can help the rise of problems getting erections, aka “whiskey dick.”

Dehydration due to drinking causes less blood volume and a rise in angiotensin, the hormone associated with erectile dysfunction, according to Huffington Post.

“For women, vaginal dryness can become an issue because of the dehydration in the body,” Camelo said. “The dehydration common when drinking alcohol can contribute to fatigue, headaches and vaginal dryness, which can cause pain.”

While alcohol may lubricate a social interaction, it does not lubricate a woman’s vagina.

“It can happen to anyone,” Camelo said.

Camelo said the libido in both men and women lowers when having alcohol in the body, which makes it more difficult to have sex or reach an orgasm.
Alcohol can delay ejaculation or interfere with it completely. This happens because the male’s sensations are dulled and his erection isn’t operating at its full potential, according to a Buzzfeed article.

In addition to the short-term effects of alcohol, it can also have chronic effects on the body.

According to Buzzfeed, alcohol increases blood sugar and is a major factor in the development of heart disease. Good sexual functioning needs good blood flow, so if the arteries clog up with plaque, it will impact blood flow to the heart, and also the penis and clitoral tissue complex. This could impact his or her sex life.

“Substance use decreases the ability to have sex long term,” Camelo said. “ The risk of having erectile dysfunction and vagina dryness increase over time as well.”

“Every human body is different. One person can experience these side effects, while some don’t experience any,” Camelo said.

Even with all these effects, people still continue to drink and be intimate with someone they are attracted to. This isn’t a bad thing. Whether there is alcohol in the body, no one can help when they become attracted to someone. No matter what, being careful when drinking, whether he or she plans to have sexual intercourse, is always important.

“Nobody is perfect, but I don’t think any important decisions should be made when under the influence of alcohol,” Greenfield said.

Email Samantha Stahl at samantha.stahl@cardialpointsonline.com

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