Shakespeare once said of alcohol that “lechery…it provokes and unprovokes; it provokes the desire but it takes away the performance (Shakespeare).” The Bard’s immortal words still ring true today. Alcohol generally makes people more willing to have sex but less capable of the act.
In small amounts, alcohol can reduce inhibitions and increase sexual desire in both sexes. One man describes the increase in desire like this: “With alcohol there comes a rush, especially in the early stages. With that rush I want more rush to come. I’m looking for excitement.”
Although small amounts of alcohol may increase sexual excitement, it does not necessarily increase sexual arousal. Even in small doses alcohol causes men’s erections to be less firm.
In larger doses alcohol reduces sexual arousal in both sexes. In men, alcohol causes impotence through several means. Long-term use of alcohol reduces testosterone levels and increases estrogen levels, which can result in impotence. Short-term use can cause transient (temporary) impotence through alcohol’s sedative effect. Additionally, alcohol can affect the nerves of the penis, causing neurogenic impotence.
Alcohol reduces sexual arousal in women as well as men. Alcohol can reduce vaginal lubrication by causing the body to send less blood to the genital region. In moderate or large quantities, alcohol can make orgasm difficult to achieve for women, just as it can for men.
Hormonal changes caused by long-term alcohol use can cause a reduction in libido, in addition to causing impotence. Using alcohol in combination with other depressants can amplify this effect.
Alcohol can interfere with the production of sperm in men. Alcohol use by men can cause abnormalities in sperm, making them less motile. When alcohol-effected sperm causes a pregnancy, there is a greater likelihood of miscarriage or birth defects.
And men agree that sex is less enjoyable when under the influence of alcohol, because alcohol makes the penis less sensitive and because it makes men take longer to orgasm. Men are also often less interested in pleasing their partner when drunk.
Amyl Nitrate and Butyl Nitrate (Poppers)
Poppers are often used as sexual enhancers, because they cause a feeling of heat and excitement which some feel makes sex more enjoyable. Although they can be legally purchased, poppers can increase the risk of heart failure.
Like alcohol, amphetamines, including methamphetamine and MDMA (ecstasy), “provoke the desire but take away the performance.” Amphetamines can increase one’s desire for sex. A male amphetamine user reports that, while amphetamines do not make him physically aroused, if he starts to think about sex while under the influence of amphetamines, he begins obsessing on sex and can’t sleep until he has had an orgasm.
In men, amphetamines often make achieving and maintaining an erection difficult. Conversely, in moderate doses, amphetamines occasionally cause priapism, a painful erection that will not go away on its own.
Male amphetamine users report that amphetamines cause shrinkage. Because of the erection difficulties and shrinkage amphetamines cause, men on amphetamines often find masturbation easier than sex.
In spite of the erection difficulties amphetamines cause, male amphetamine users find it possible, although difficult, to achieve orgasm while flaccid when they are on amphetamines. Some men report that they have never been able to do this, except when on amphetamines.
Men generally find it very difficult to ejaculate while on high doses of amphetamines. Some people see this as an advantage, because it allows men to last longer during sex. However, this side effect can also be very frustrating. Some men say that while masturbating on amphetamines it “feels like you’re gonna cum at any second, but you don’t.” They feel that the physical sensation of sexual stimulation is better while on amphetamines, but the overall experience is less enjoyable. “After a while, it’s like you just want it to be over with.”
Ejaculation can cause mild discomfort to men on amphetamines. Male amphetamine users report that ejaculation feels equally good and satisfying whether on or off amphetamines, but the testicles feel uncomfortable after ejaculating while on amphetamines.
In very high doses, amphetamines can cause spontaneous orgasm. However, doses this high are extremely dangerous, as they can cause convulsions, heart failure, stroke and death.
Both amphetamines and cocaine are stimulants, so the effects of cocaine are similar to the affects of amphetamines. Like amphetamines, cocaine can cause erectile dysfunction and, in moderate doses, priapism. As with amphetamines, men generally find it very difficult to ejaculate while on high doses of cocaine, which some see as an advantage, and some find frustrating. Finally, in very high doses, cocaine can cause spontaneous orgasm, but doses this high can be fatal.
In small doses, cocaine causes excitement and euphoria, which the user may interpret as sexual excitement. However, chronic heavy use of cocaine can lower the libido . Because cocaine is addictive, the desire for cocaine may eventually overpower any desire for sex.
Cocaine is a local anesthetic. When applied to the skin, it reduces sensitivity. Some men take advantage of this effect by rubbing the drug on their penises so as to last longer during sex. This reduces the pleasure that the man receives, causing him to take longer to reach orgasm. The same effect can be achieved legally and relatively inexpensively through anesthetizing creams available in many sex toy stores.
Heroin can reduce sexual responses in both sexes. Men on heroin have difficulty achieving erections and ejaculating, while women on heroin produce less vaginal lubrication and have more difficulty reaching orgasm. Heavy use of heroin can lower the libido.
In small doses, the effects of GHB are similar to those of alcohol. At these doses, GHB lowers inhibitions and increases sexual desire. However, the potency of this drug is often unpredictable, and in doses only slightly larger than are taken recreationally, it can cause the user to vomit or pass out and can even result in death. GHB is particularly dangerous in combination with alcohol and other depressants.
GHB is clear, odorless, and almost tasteless. Because the drug is not easily detected, and because of its sedative affect, it is sometimes used as a tool for date rape. The assaulter can secretly put the drug into the victim’s drink, and rape the victim when s/he is unconscious. Victims of this sort of date rape often do not later remember that they have been assaulted.
Nicotine can affect erectile tissue and the muscles involved in producing an erection, thus causing impotence. Men who smoke tobacco are twice as likely to be impotent as non-smoking men of the same age. Using nicotine in combination with cardiac drugs, antihypertensive medications or vasodilators drastically increases a man’s probability of complete impotence.
Tobacco can cause men to produce fewer sperm, and can cause deformities in the remaining sperm. These deformities reduce the motility of the sperm, and in pregnancies caused by these deformed sperm there is a greater chance of miscarriage or health problems for the fetus. Children whose fathers have smoked tobacco at some point have a greater risk of cancer, even if the father stopped smoking before the child was conceived.
For the first half hour after consuming marijuana, the drug causes excitement and euphoria and increases the user’s heart rate. The user may interpret these effects as sexual excitement. However, after half an hour, marijuana has a sedative effect.
Long-term use of marijuana generally has a negative effect on sexuality. Chronic heavy use of marijuana can lower the libido. There is some evidence that it can cause erectile dysfunction as well. In women, marijuana can disrupt the menstrual cycle.
Long-term use of marijuana can lower sperm production or cause sperm to develop abnormally. Long-term use can also lower testosterone levels. Both of these effects go away after marijuana use ceases.
Many people find sex under the influence of marijuana to be especially enjoyable. According to Adverse Drug Effects by Jennifer Kelly, marijuana “enhances sensory experiences, and so is described by some as an aphrodisiac.” One marijuana user claims, “Marijuana makes everything feel more sensual. That includes touch, music and definitely taste; and definitely for not just the orgasm, but the entire sexual experience. When both partners are under the influence of marijuana and naked and horny and rubbing their bodies together, it feels like it’s the first time they’ve ever been naked and horny and rubbing their bodies together.”
Some feel that marijuana makes orgasms longer and more intense. This may be a result of the distorted sense of time that marijuana use causes. Studies have found no measurable differences in the length or intensity of the orgasms of people on marijuana, even when the subjects felt that their orgasms had been longer and more intense.
Marijuana does not always make sex more enjoyable. Marijuana sometimes causes nervousness and self-consciousness, especially in people who are unfamiliar with the drug or are in unfamiliar situations. These emotions can interfere with sexual desire. Marijuana also impairs one’s motor skills, making the user clumsy, which can damage one’s performance during sex.
Viagra is intended to treat erectile dysfunction and other erection problems in men. It does so by increasing blood flow to the penis. Viagra will not have this effect unless the man is sexually excited. Therefore, it is only helpful to men with physical reasons for their erection problems, and is not effective in treating erection difficulties that have psychological roots. However, one user of Viagra reports that the drug can indirectly alleviate some such problems. When not on Viagra, if he noticed that his erection was starting to get a little less firm, he would become anxious, and the anxiety would cause him to lose his erection all together. When on Viagra, he would never even start to lose his erection, so the anxiety would never occur in the first place and could not cause him to lose his erection.