Alcohol, Sex and Fertility
Another way that alcohol impacts our sexual health is through risky sexual behavior. Because of its ability to lower our inhibitions, we may make decisions that put us at risk for sexually transmitted disease or unplanned pregnancy. Studies have shown that condom use decreases as alcohol use increases, especially among teenagers and young adults.
Alcohol also influences our sexual health through our fertility. For both men and women, heavy alcohol use is associated with an increased rate of infertility and difficulty becoming pregnant. Male sperm count is impacted because alcohol can lower testosterone and increase estrogen, shrink the testes, cause early and decreased ejaculation, and alter the shape, size, and movement of the sperm. In women, drinking is linked with ovulation disorders, which can reduce fertility. Additionally, many of the risks of alcohol consumption, like unhealthy body weight, can impact fertility in women.
So we know that when we consume alcohol, it can play a complex role in our sexual health and wellness. While it decreases our inhibitions, it can also influence our ability to actually feel pleasure and achieve orgasm. Alcohol also impacts our ability to conceive, and increases risky sexual behavior. This information is power—in the future, we can be more mindful of whether alcohol should play a role in the bedroom or not.
American Addiction Centers. (2020, March). Alcohol Consumption and a Woman's Fertility Rate. https://www.alcohol.org/pregnancy/reproduction-issues/
Crowe, L. C., & George, W. H. (1989). Alcohol and human sexuality: Review and integration. Psychological Bulletin, 105(3), 374–386. https://doi.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2F0033-2909.105.3.374
Goshal, M. (2019, June). Does Alcohol Kill Sperm? And Other Fertility Facts. Healthline Parenthood. https://www.healthline.com/health/does-alcohol-kill-sperm-2
Homan, G. F., Davies, M. J., & Norman, R. J. (2007). The impact of lifestyle factors on reproductive performance in the general population and those undergoing infertility treatment: a review. Human Reproduction Update, 13(3), 209-223.