By Clair Weaver
IT gives the phrase "a stiff drink" a whole new meaning: Australian researchers have made the surprise discovery that alcohol improves, rather than damages, men's performance in the bedroom.They hope the finding, which flies in the face of conventional belief, will reassure men who worry about the affects of drinking on their sex lives.
Until now, it has been widely believed alcohol consumption could cause erectile dysfunction, commonly called "brewer's droop''.
But a study of 1580 Australian men has shown the reverse may be true, with drinkers reporting as many as 30 per cent fewer problems than teetotallers.
Even binge drinkers had lower rates of erectile dysfunction than those who never drank, although this type of drinking can cause other health problems.
Lead study author Dr Kew-Kim Chew, of Western Australia's Keogh Institute for Medical Research, told The Sunday Telegraph men who drank within safe guidelines appeared to have the best erectile function.
"We found that, compared to those who have never touched alcohol, many people do benefit from some alcohol, including some people who drink outside the guidelines,'' Dr Chew said.
Dr Chew said he had patients with erectile dysfunction who had been told to stop drinking completely.
The latest finding should prevent them compounding the problem by feeling "guilty and stressed'' about present or past drinking, he said.
After other risk factors were excluded, weekend drinkers, high-risk drinkers and those who exceeded alcohol-intake guidelines had lower rates of erectile dysfunction than those who drank one day a week or less. Ex-drinkers, however, had the highest risk.