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Binge Drinking Increases Risky Sexual Behavior Particularly for Women

Heavy Drinking Linked to Unsafe Sexual Practices

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Updated October 15, 2008

Binge drinking is linked to risky sexual behavior for everyone, but that behavior is particularly dangerous for women, according to a study by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

A study of 671 people who were being treated at a clinic for sexually transmitted diseases revealed that binge drinking (five or more drinks at one drinking session) among women was linked to unsafe sexual practices and high rates of gonorrhea, more so than binge drinking among the men treated at the clinic.

More Likely to Have Risky Sex

Of the 671 people in the study, 322 were male and 349 were female. Of the subjects, 95% were African American and 83% were heterosexual.

The researchers found that female binge drinkers were more likely to have anal sex than male binge drinkers. They also found that women who were binge drinkers were three times more likely to have anal sex than nondrinking women. They were also twice as likely to have multiple sex partners if they were binge drinkers.

Increased Risk of Gonorrhea

Compared to women who do not drink, binge drinking women are five times more likely to have gonorrhea.

"Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease which reflects unsafe sexual practices," said Geetanjali Chander, assistant professor of medicine, in a news release. "This association between binge drinking and high-risk sexual behaviors is especially important as risky behaviors are associated with HIV acquisition and transmission."

More Dangerous for Women

According to the researchers, binge drinking and risky sexual behaviors are more hazardous to women for the following reasons:

  • Consuming the same amount of alcohol as men, women will have a higher blood alcohol concentration of alcohol in their system.

  • If women and men consume the same amount of alcohol, women will experience substantially greater alcohol-caused impairment than men.

  • Men are eight to 10 times more likely to transmit HIV to a female partner through repeated, unprotected sexual intercourse than women are to transmit the virus to men.

The authors suggest that healthcare providers treating sexually transmitted diseases should screen their patients not only for alcohol dependence, but also for binge drinking, because it is associated with high-risk behaviors.

Source:

Hutton, H.E., et al. "The Relationship between Recent Alcohol Use and Sexual Behaviors: Gender Differences among STD Clinic Patients." Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research November 2008.

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