Over the past decade, young Nigerians have grown increasingly sexually and socially liberated. Old taboos surrounding alcohol and sex have begun to fall away and the mixing of alcohol and sex has become commonplace.
Unfortunately, as more and more Nigeria-focused studies are revealing, this drinking is frequently heavy, and sex is often risky.
Of course, occasionally having a drink or two poses little threat to your sexual health. Regular and excessive alcohol consumption, however, is quite another problem altogether. There are numerous reasons why drinking and sex can make a dangerous cocktail, and some of them may surprise you.
Here’s why alcohol and sex are not great partners.
Alcohol is Not An Aphrodisiac
Among the most widespread myths surrounding alcohol and sex is that consuming alcohol increases sexual potency. Sure, a couple of drinks may give you the courage to approach that sexy stranger at a bar. However, you may get an unpleasant surprise when you actually try to have sex while under the influence. Excessive alcohol consumption tends to impair, rather than enhance, the functioning of sex organs.
And this doesn’t only apply to your sexual performance while you are actually inebriated. The more often you consume alcohol in excess, the more likely its adverse effects on your sex life will be to linger, even when you are sober. Your liver isn’t the only organ that can be damaged by excessive alcohol intake.
For one thing, alcohol can interfere with blood flow to your genitals, thus hampering their ability to do what you want them to in the heat of the moment. Additionally, since alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, it slows down brain function, which can slow down the body’s responses to situations too.
In Women: Excessive Alcohol Makes It Harder to Climax
Because alcohol increases blood levels of the male sex hormone, testosterone, it can increase sexual desire in women. But this is not guaranteed and, as we shall see, desire is only Step One in the process of sexual interaction.
Contrary to popular belief, research shows that your genitals may actually become less responsive to sexual stimulation when you’re intoxicated.
The impact of alcohol on blood circulation and the CNS can cause women to take much longer to achieve orgasm, if they do at all. Plus, your genitals’ ability to self-lubricate upon arousal may be similarly impaired, meaning that your body is not properly prepared for intercourse.
The end result may be a dry and painful sexual encounter that can leave you sore for long after the moment of passion has passed. Skin broken by excessive friction can also make you more vulnerable to contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). There is even the risk that, too inebriated and caught up in the moment to notice, you may cause long-term damage to your vaginal tissue.
In Men: Intoxication Can Delay Ejaculation & Cause Erectile Dysfunction
To put it bluntly, if you try to have sex when you’re drunk or even just a bit tipsy, you may struggle to get or stay hard. In addition to the circulation and CNS issues experienced by women, excessive alcohol intake in men also stimulates the production of angiotensin, a hormone with known links to erectile dysfunction (ED).
To make matters worse, even if you do manage to stay erect, you may struggle to ejaculate. In such cases, you might find that you are unable to lose your erection. While an erection that lasts for over half an hour may sound impressive, it could be quite frustrating and painful.
Ultimately, a pattern of regular overdrinking can lead to ongoing erectile dysfunction, even if you’re fully sober when you try to have sex. While there is erectile dysfunction medication that helps you to maintain and sustain an erection, if alcohol is the cause of ED this isn’t a solution. Stopping or at the very least reducing drinking is.
You May Do Something You’ll Regret in the Morning… Or Forever
Alcohol tends to dilute our critical thinking and decision-making abilities. As a result, heavy drinking can cause you to act out of character, especially in sexual situations.
As numerous studies have shown, acute alcohol intoxication fosters risky sexual behavior. For example, both sexes—but particularly men—are less likely to practice safe sex when under the influence. Unwanted pregnancies and STIs are thus a common hazard when sex and alcohol are mixed.
Importantly, contrary to what many young women believe, alcohol itself cannot prevent pregnancy.
You May Be More Vulnerable to Sexual Assault
Let us be clear that sexual assault is never justified, even if the victim is drunk or unconscious.
Unfortunately, however, we live in a sometimes very unhealthy world. Studies have shown, in roughly half of the sexual assaults on American college campuses; the perpetrator, the victim or both were under the influence of alcohol. There are numerous contributing factors to this statistic:
- Alcohol makes potential victims less alert to threatening situations or individuals.
- Predators seek out venues where alcohol is served to find vulnerable people.
- In addition to increasing subjective arousal and diminishing inhibitions, alcohol can make people more aggressive leading to sexual assault. Perpetrators will often blame the effects of alcohol in attempts to justify their actions. “I was drunk” is never an excuse, but it’s one we hear all too often to justify bad behavior.
- Myths and misunderstandings about sexual consent abound. Many people still mistakenly believe, that it is okay to have sex with a person who is too drunk to give consent. The assumption is that their consent is somehow implied or even not required.
- Predators are aware that the shame and stigmatization experienced by sexual assault survivors are often exacerbated, if they were drunk at the time of the assault. Society may shame the victim, so they are less likely to report the attack to authorities.
Parting Thoughts: All Things in Moderation
The key takeaway from the many studies on the risks of mixing alcohol and sex is this: moderation is essential.
The detrimental impact of alcohol on sexual health and performance increase proportionate to the number of drinks you have. One drink, or two if you weigh more than 85 kg, is your safest bet. Also, if you’re expecting a night of heavy drinking, come prepared with protection.
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