Women and Alcohol – Sexual health effects

Alcohol may impair judgement or reduce inhibitions and consequently, people may be more likely to engage in ‘risky’ or unprotected sex.

Although not restricted to women only, such effects may have particular consequences for women.

Unplanned pregnancy

A study in the Republic of Ireland identified alcohol as a factor in crisis and unplanned pregnancies, where drinking resulted in the non-use of condoms.

A survey of young people in Northern Ireland found that the consumption of alcohol decreased the likelihood of using contraception.

There are a number of adverse health, educational and socioeconomic outcomes for teenage mothers and their children.

Sexually transmitted infection

Unprotected sex is also a risk factor for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphillis and HIV. Most STIs may be treated, but some may result in severe complications such as infertility or cervical cancer, while others such as HIV have lifelong consequences.

Women are more susceptible than men to many STIs, due to anatomical differences.

Adolescent/teenage women are particularly vulnerable due to the immature development of the uterine cervix.

STIs are also more likely to remain undetected in women, resulting in delayed diagnosis, delayed treatment and more severe complications.

The spread of STIs may be reduced by using a condom every time you have sex, limiting your number of sexual partners and having regular checkups.

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