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Alcohol benefits erection because it benefits the cardiovascular system.  The erection is a vascular event. A neurologic signal causes the arteries to the penis to dilate.  Blood rushes to the penis and fills two long erectile cylinders in the penis called the corpora cavernosa.  As the corpora dilate, the venous drainage from the penis is cut off. Blood is trapped in the penis and the erection ensues.

Although this remains a controversial subject, most of the studies show that alcohol taken in moderation improves cardiovascular health and improves erectile function.   

Alcohol Reduces ED – The Australian Study

 The Western Australian Men’s Health Study examined questionnaires sent to over 4000 men.  The study found a significant reduction in ED among moderate alcohol drinkers. The study did not examine which type of alcoholic beverage conferred the most benefit.  

The French Paradox

Further evidence that alcohol and erectile dysfunction are linked and that the consumption of alcohol has health benefits arose from studies of cardiovascular disease in France. The French Paradox refers to the low incidence of CV disease in France.  This is surprising when you consider that the French eat 3.8 times as much butter as Americans.  Besides consuming a high fat diet, the French smoke more than their American counterparts. Finally, the French do not exercise as much as Americans do.  If you travel to Paris, you will observe that very few people jog in the streets or in the parks.  

Despite this seemingly high risk behavior, the mortality rate from cardiovascular disease in France is 2.5 times lower than the mortality rate in the US.  This is the French Paradox.  

Red Wine Improves Cardiovascular Health and Erectile Function

Most investigators believe the French have a low incidence of CV disease because they drink a lot of red wine. Red wine contains a class of chemicals called polyphenols.  The most important polyphenol is resveratrol. Studies show that resveratrol is responsible for most of the CV benefits of red wine.

Evidence that Red Wine is Beneficial

The results of the Health Professions Follow-up Study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2003.  Questionnaires were sent to 51,000 male dentists, veterinarians, optometrists, osteopaths and podiatrists. The results showed that men who drank a moderate amount of alcohol at least 3 to 4 times per week had fewer heart attacks than those who did not drink.

The Copenhagen Centre of Prospective Population Studies included 13,000 male participants.  The study found that men who drank 1 to 3 glasses of red wine had a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.  The consumption of white wine, beer or spirits had little effect upon the death rate. The Copenhagen study showed red wine is the alcoholic beverage that confers most of the benefit to the CV system.

How Much Alcohol You Should Drink: The J Curve

Most studies show that moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial but heavy alcohol consumption is harmful.

If you graph the quantity of alcohol consumed versus the rate of heart attacks, the result is a “J” shaped curve.  Small or moderate quantities of alcohol reduce the risk of heart attack, while large amounts of alcohol increase the risk.

How Does Red Wine Work?

Studies show that red wine benefits your cardiovascular system and reduces the risk of erectile dysfunction through several different mechanisms. 

Red Wine Decreases Platelet Adhesion

Red wine makes platelets less sticky. This effect is probably due to resveratrol, an important chemical found in red wine.  When platelets stick together, a thrombus can result.  This thrombus can block arterial blood flow.  

Red Wine Improves Lipid Profiles

Red wine favorably affects the lipid levels in your blood.  Red wine decreases cholesterol, decreases LDL’s and increases HDL’s.   Red wine is also an anti-oxidant and results in a decrease in the harmful oxidation of LDL’s.  All of these effects of red wine decreases the risk of atherosclerosis and improves erectile function.

Red Wine Increases Insulin Sensitivity

Red wine increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin.  This reduces the harmful effects of Type 2 Diabetes. Increased insulin sensitivity also reduces the harmful effects of the Metabolic Syndrome.  

The Metabolic Syndrome is a clinical constellation that includes Type 2 Diabetes, abnormal lipid profile, hypertension and obesity.  The underlying cause of the Metabolic Syndrome is insensitivity to insulin. 

Because red wine improves insulin sensitivity, red wine will improve the cardiovascular system and red wine will improve erectile function.

Red Wine Increases Nitrous Oxide Levels

Red wine increases levels of nitrous oxide which is the most important chemical messenger of the erection process.  Nitrous oxide results in dilation of the arteries which improves blood flow to the penis and to the rest of the body. 

Dangers of Alcohol

Alcohol carries several risks especially when consumed in large quantities.  These risks include addiction, GI tract cancer, oral cancer, breast cancer, liver disease, nerve toxicity and reduction in testosterone levels.  Caution must be exercised when drinking alcohol and taking Viagra – the combination can produce a dangerous reduction in blood pressure.

Conclusions Regarding Red Wine

Most of the studies show that drinking 1 or 2 glasses of red wine with dinner will produce a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease and a reduction in the risk of erectile dysfunction.  

 As long as you refrain from over drinking, daily red wine consumption will benefit you.