Sex and alcohol
Alcohol is everywhere and plenty of young people drink it whether they are underage or not. It can be tempting, fun but it can also be dangerous.
People like alcohol because it makes them feel different; fun, confident, tempted for sex or foreplay. But it can have some nasty effects such as making you sick or weak. You can also feel your mood changing, and can’t make decisions about sex and putting yourself at high risk of unplanned pregnancy or catching sexually transmitted infections (STIs). While alcohol makes you feel good for one night, the effects can last for much longer if things go wrong.
Why is it important for me to be aware about sex and alcohol?
Because of the effects of alcohol making you a different person from what you are normally, alcohol can encourage you to have sex. You would lose your inhibitions such as shyness and make decisions you wouldn’t normally make which can lead to pregnancy or STIs if you’re not in a rational state.
Having sex, particularly when it’s your first time, is a really important decision you should make while you’re in control, with a clear head. It is also important that you are around with people you know you will be safe with because in pubs or nightclubs, there will be people older than you and more experienced and as such, alcohol can make them aroused.
Can I still have sex and alcohol – is it good to mix the two?
The short answer is ‘no’. It might make you relaxed and calm but drinking can make things unpleasant especially if having sex would be the first time.
If you’re drunk, you might not even remember having sex. This makes it much more likely that you’ll regret it – especially if it’s your first time. You may even have sex with someone you don’t like but you do not realise it until the effects of alcohol wears off making the experience even more unpleasant.
Is sex safe when you’ve been drinking?
Definitely not. Alcohol stops you making sensible decisions, for example not always using a condom, so you’re at greater risk of unplanned pregnancy and STIs. Or you could become the victim of sexual assault.
If you’re drunk, you’re less likely to be thinking clearly enough to talk to your partner about using condoms, or to use them properly. Condoms are the only way to protect yourself from an unplanned pregnancy and STIs. If you’re taking the contraceptive pill and alcohol makes you sick, the pill is much less likely to work, so you could be at risk of unplanned pregnancy.
If someone has sex with you against your will it doesn’t matter whether you’re drunk or not. You always have the right to say ‘no’. If someone assaults you, seek help and advice as soon as possible.
If you wanted to watch role plays covering some of the issues above, you can click on our video clips from our workshops with young people.
Tips for staying safe
If you’re planning to drink alcohol, follow these tips to keep yourself safe:
- Stick with mates – don’t go to parties alone and ask your friends to keep an eye out for you if you’re drinking alcohol. Always travel home with your friends and never take an unlicensed cab.
- Watch your drinks – never leave drinks unattended or take drinks from people you don’t know
- Make decisions when you’re sober – if you’re partying, talk about your boundaries with your boyfriend/girlfriend before you start drinking so you don’t get carried away and regret it later
- Be prepared – if you’re ready to have sex, sort out your contraception before you go out drinking and always carry a condom so you can take care of yourself.
- Emergency action – if things don’t go according to plan and you have unprotected sex, you can get emergency contraception from your local clinic or GP. A doctor or nurse can also help you get tested for STIs. The emergency contraceptive pill (also known as the morning after pill) is most effective in the first 24 hours after you’ve had unprotected sex, so it’s best to act quickly. Click here for your nearest confidential service.