Ask the Doc: What is whisky dick?

2 min

Related conditions


What is whisky dick?


‘Whisky dick’ is a modern-day term for an age-old problem: alcohol-induced erectile dysfunction. Those of us old enough to remember Dire Straits will be familiar with the term ‘brewers droop’, and maybe even ‘Foster’s flop’, which was used around the same time. Shakespeare even wrote about the problem 400 years ago, in Macbeth. 

A little bit of alcohol might be useful to relax you and put you in the mood, and some evidence suggests that small amounts (one or two drinks) might even improve erectile function, probably because small amounts of alcohol can reduce inhibition. However, drinking too much, to quote Shakespeare, “Provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance”.

Alcohol is a depressant; it decreases nerve activity in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). This is why it causes problems with things like coordination, thinking and sleepiness. High blood alcohol levels can therefore inhibit the nerves necessary to have an erection.

High levels of alcohol may also impair the functioning of the blood vessels of the penis, which can cause erectile dysfunction.

Whisky dick is usually used for erection problems that happen on the odd occasion when you’ve had too much to drink. Long-term use of alcohol, especially at high levels, can lead to long-term problems with erections that occur most of the time. The more you drink throughout your life, the greater your risk of erectile dysfunction.


Alcohol use
Erectile dysfunction
Mental health
Sexual health
Substance use

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