Wellington: Turned 40 and cannot think of sex without booze? Well, you are not alone. According to a recent study, having alcohol before sex is common in middle-aged people -- and this leads to adverse physical and sexual health outcomes.
The team from University of Otago in Dunedin found that drinking heavily at least once a week was actually more common at 38 years of age than it had been at 26.
This frequent heavy drinking was associated with a higher likelihood of sexually-transmitted diseases in men, and with terminations of pregnancy among women, in the period between 26 and 32 years of age.
“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,” said Professor Jennie Connor, the lead author, in a statement.
“Some patterns of behaviour 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,” he noted
The findings emerge from the internationally-renowned Dunedin Study, which has tracked the progress of more than 1000 people born in Dunedin in 1972.
The sexual and reproductive health and behaviour component of the Dunedin Study is the world’s longest running cohort study looking at these aspects of people’s lives.
When the participants were assessed at 38 years of age, eight percent of men and almost 15 percent of women said they had usually or always drunk alcohol before having sex in the previous 12 months.
Only 20 percent of men and 16 percent of women said they never did so.
Nearly 14 percent of men and 12 percent 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 pattern of drinking were more likely to have had sex they later regretted in the past year, and the regret almost always related to partner choice.
There has been very little previous investigation of the role of alcohol in sexual behaviour beyond young adulthood.
“These findings suggest that efforts to improve sexual health and wellbeing will need to take alcohol into account at all ages,” the researchers noted in a paper published in the international journal PLOS ONE.