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Many people who take Viagra – or the unbranded generic version Sildenafil – might also want to enjoy a drink at the same time. Unfortunately, alcohol is known to hamper a man’s ability to get and maintain an erection. Although it isn’t known exactly how many people have erectile dysfunction (ED) as a result of excessive alcohol use, it’s safe to say that there’s a negative relationship between the two.


Short-term effects of alcohol


In the short term, drinking alcohol can have an immediate effect on your ability to gain and maintain an erection hard enough for sex. A small amount of alcohol, such as one pint of beer or a glass of wine, isn’t likely to impair your ability to get and maintain an erection, but drinking large amounts may do so. In other words, to help get the maximum benefit from the medicine you shouldn’t drink excessive amounts of alcohol – or ‘get drunk’ – when using Viagra. 


The recommended intake limit of alcohol in the UK for men and women is not to regularly drink more than 14 units per week, and it’s advisable to spread your drinking over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units per week. One unit is equal to half a pint of low-strength (3.6%) beer or lager, or a single small shot of spirits (25ml). 


Long-term effects of alcohol


Heavy, long-term use of alcohol has been noted to cause psychological problems such as depression, anxiety and insomnia. People who are alcohol dependent may also put themselves at risk of very unpleasant alcohol withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop drinking, something often referred to as ‘the shakes’. This involves excessive sweating, hand tremors and even visual hallucinations. 


As well as having the potential to cause psychological problems, long-term alcohol abuse is also known to cause serious physical health conditions. People who drink can put themselves at an increased risk of heart disease, strokes, liver cancer, bowel cancer and pancreatitis, meaning that it’s extremely important to keep your alcohol intake within the weekly recommended limits. 


See your GP


If you’re worried about the amount you’re drinking, then speak to your GP to discuss the services and treatment options that are available. 
Sometimes ED can be caused by an underlying health problem, like heart disease, so it’s important that you do go and see your doctor. By treating any underlying health condition, your erectile dysfunction symptoms may resolve.  

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