An occasional red wine could spice up your sex life, research suggests. According to a review of dozens of studies, men who drink one or two glasses a day have a lower risk of erectile dysfunction, while women appear to enjoy higher libido.
The researchers say plant compounds in red wine can improve blood flow, increase testosterone, and stimulate sex organs.
‘The evidence so far collected has shown that red wine, if consumed in moderation, can be potentially beneficial for patients with erectile dysfunction,’ the researchers wrote in the review, published earlier this month in the Journal for Clinical Medicine.
They highlighted the polyphenols as the driver of the sex-boosting effects of wine.
The compound is found in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, tea, dark chocolate – and red wine.
Flavonoids account for the majority of polyphenols. These the ones found in red wine as well as apples, onions, dark chocolate, and red cabbage.
Polyphenols also act as antioxidants, compounds that prevent oxidation in the body. Oxidation produces unstable chemicals called free radicals that destroy cells.
Antioxidants, therefore, play a role in preventing several conditions, such as heart disease and certain cancers.
‘It can be concluded that the antioxidant properties of polyphenols present in red wine appear to be beneficial for the reproductive system,’ the review authors wrote.
In the case of erectile dysfunction- the inability to maintain an erection- the antioxidant properties in red wine polyphenols could boost vascular health. This means increased blood flow to the penis, which is crucial for maintaining an erection.
The researchers also suggested that red wine can boost testosterone, a primary driver in sexual desire, as well as male fertility.
The team reviewed dozens of studies conducted between 1993 and 2022 on both men and women of various age groups and demographics. Many topics included health effects on oxidative stress, vascular health, cardiac health, hormone balance, and testosterone levels.
Others compared red wine to other alcoholic beverages, including beer, finding that red wine was more effective for sexual health.
For women, the review team pointed to a study of nearly 800 women in Italy. The results showed that women who drank red wine moderately had higher levels of sexual desire than those who drank less than one glass of wine or any other alcoholic beverage per day.
They also found increased vaginal lubrication, a marker of better sexual function.
The review builds upon earlier research done on the effect of moderate drinking on sexual health.
One 2016 study from researchers at Harvard University and the University of East Anglia in the UK evaluated 50,000 healthy, middle-aged men over the course of 40 years. They found that men who regularly enjoyed a glass of red wine, as well as some citrus fruits and berries, were nine to 11 percent less likely to develop erectile dysfunction.
A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women who regularly consumed moderate amounts of red wine had more sexual desire and stronger sexual function than women who didn’t drink.
Other research has shown that red wine boosts testosterone in both men and women, which increases desire.
The findings come after the World Health Organization’s (WHO) warning in January that no amount of alcohol is safe.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting alcohol intake to two drinks or less for men and one drink or less for women.
The researchers cautioned that more research is still needed to determine more specific effects of polyphenols on sexual function.