Take care, be smart if mixing sex and alcohol

Published in the University of New Mexico’s student newspaper, the Daily Lobo.

Alcohol is one of the most popular drugs among college students, so it’s important to know how alcohol affects you and how it might affect your sexual decision making.

According to Planned Parenthood’s website, “Nearly one-third of young adults have reported that they’ve ‘done more’ sexually under the influence of alcohol and drugs than they planned while sober.”

Sexual assault is another risk of drunkenly choosing and getting to know your potential sexual partner. It is important to know who you might be going to bed with and to make sure that someone else knows where you are in case you need help or don’t come home.

Laura Anne Stuart is a sex columnist for the Shepherd Express, a weekly newspaper in Milwaukee, and the coordinator of sexual health education and violence prevention at Northwestern University’s Center for Awareness, Response and Education.
In a 2010 column titled “Putting the Drunken Hookup to Bed” she wrote, “… Legally, intoxicated people cannot consent to sexual activity; therefore, if you have sex with someone who’s drunk, you may be committing sexual assault.”

On Planned Parenthood’s website it says, “Mixing sex with alcohol or other drugs also increases the chances of unintended pregnancy and exposure to sexually transmitted infections. If you have sex when you’re drunk or high, you’re much less likely to be thinking clearly enough to use condoms, or use them correctly.”

Keeping all of these risks and potentially dangerous scenarios in mind, alcohol can, depending on the person and quantity, help a person overcome nervousness or anxiety in finding partners.

Having sex and drinking are two activities that college students indulge in frequently, often at the same time, and they will continue to do so. The least you can do for yourself and your partner is to know when you are sober enough to take the risk of having sex with someone, and when you aren’t.

I am in no way saying that you should drink to be confident. You should be able to attract partners because of your attractive traits and sparkling personality. According to the How Stuff Works website, alcohol intoxication is divided into six stages that are based on the percent of alcohol in your blood and your symptoms.

The euphoric stage comes first, with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) ranging from 0.03 percent to 0.12 percent. In my opinion, this is the only stage in which alcohol might help you socially and
sexually, because it can make you feel bold and more self-confident. According to an article on everydayhealth. com written by Chris Iliades and medically reviewed by Farrokh Sohrabi, both medical doctors, in moderation alcohol can have sexual benefits.

“Drink a little alcohol; kiss your bedroom jitters goodbye … But beyond that newfound confidence, is alcohol good for your sex life?” the article asks. “Actually, the effect can be the opposite as your blood alcohol level increases.

Alcohol is a depressant, and using it heavily can dampen mood, decrease sexual desire, and make it difficult for a man to achieve erections or reach an orgasm.”

If you are in a relationship, you might benefit from a glass or two of red wine with dinner because many people say it makes them easily aroused.

The euphoric stage is followed by the excitement stage with a BAC range of 0.09 percent to 0.25 percent. Symptoms during this stage are not conducive to good conversation, much less good sex. Drinkers might become sleepy, lose their balance and have trouble using their senses. If you are too drunk to feel the foreplay you are giving your partner, you are probably doing a sloppy job. Sloppy sex isn’t good sex.

The next stage is confusion (0.18 percent to 0.30 percent BAC). Confusion and sex don’t mix and will similarly lead to sloppy sex that has a high potential for regret.

After that is the stupor stage (0.25 percent to 0.40 percent BAC), and the symptoms in this stage should make it impossible to have sex. Individuals in the stupor stage may not be able to move, walk or stand. They don’t respond to stimuli and may vomit. The next stage is the coma stage, with BAC ranging from 0.35 percent to 0.5 percent. Symptoms include unconsciousness, slow breathing and slow heart rate.

The final stage is death, with a BAC of 0.50 percent or more.
It is important to understand the stages of intoxication so that you can decide for yourself how much you want to drink if you are going to try to have sex with someone.

More importantly, alcohol affects people differently. Just because your friend can have a few drinks and get laid successfully doesn’t mean alcohol will do the same for you. The purpose of this column is not to encourage alcohol use to make your sex life better. It is so that you can make educated choices about when you are in the right state of mind to make decisions about sexual activity, and when you aren’t.

Hunter is a senior psychology major at UNM. She has a special interest in sex psychology and research. You can send your sex questions and comments to hriley@unm.edu

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