Having alcohol before sex is common in middle-aged people and this leads to adverse physical and sexual health outcomes, revealed a research team from University of Otago in Dunedin. They found that drinking heavily at least once a week was actually more common at 38 years of age than it had been at 26 years. This frequent heavy drinking was associated with a higher likelihood of sexually-transmitted diseases (STD) in men, and with terminations of pregnancy among women, in the period between 26 and 32 years of age.
Professor Jennie Connor, the lead author, said, "This is a cohort of adults who have been exposed to high levels of alcohol consumption among their age group when they were growing up. Some patterns of behavior have persisted. Many report not using condoms or contraception when it was appropriate to do so, due to their own or their partner's drinking at the time."
When the study participants were assessed at 38 years of age, 8% of men and almost 15% of women said they had usually or always drunk alcohol before having sex in the previous 12 months. Only 20% of men and 16% of women said they never did so. Nearly 14% of men and 12% of women reported some adverse impact of drinking before sex in that year, including regretted sex and failure to use contraception or condoms. Both the men and women with this drinking pattern were more likely to have had sex they later regretted in the past year, and the regret almost always related to partner choice.
The researchers said, "These findings suggest that efforts to improve sexual health and well being will need to take alcohol into account at all ages."
The study is published in PLOS ONE.