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Alcohol and Health

How Does Alcohol Impact Your Sex Life? A Guide for Women

June 15, 2023
8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
June 15, 2023
8 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
June 15, 2023
8 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
June 15, 2023
8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
June 15, 2023
8 min read

Did you know that the occasional glass of wine or a cocktail can have more of an impact than just making you the life of the party? In fact, alcohol can impact women's sexual health in complex ways. On one side, moderate alcohol consumption can lower inhibitions and may increase sexual desire. On the flip side, however, it can also impair sexual function and has been linked to an increased risk of sexual assault.

A Gentle Reminder: We understand that this is a sensitive topic, so if you believe you will be triggered, please feel free to skip this blog post.

A Toast to Desire...or Not?

The relationship between alcohol and sex is complex. We often hear about alcohol being a “social lubricant” that makes us feel more sociable and uninhibited. Some research has suggested that low to moderate amounts of alcohol can increase sexual desire in women. However, the key words here are "low to moderate.” Too much alcohol can actually have the opposite effect.

Research shows that alcohol can impact our sexual health and functioning in a number of unpleasant ways. A study published in 2022 in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism showed a negative relationship between heavy drinking and sexual satisfaction in women. In other words, while a couple of drinks might get the party started, too many can crash it.

Scientists have reported that women who frequently consumed alcohol reported lower levels of sexual desire in the long run compared to non-drinkers. They also found that the risk of sexual dysfunction increased with the quantity of alcohol consumed.

What About Performance?

Here's where it gets tricky. Alcohol might make us feel sexier, but it can also impair sexual performance. How, exactly? Well, first off, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. This means that it can dampen the responses of our nervous system, including those necessary for sexual arousal and orgasm.

Moreover, alcohol can affect lubrication, making sex more uncomfortable or even painful. A 2021 study from the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women who consumed alcohol heavily reported higher rates of sexual pain.

What’s the Deal With Testosterone?

A key player in this narrative is the hormone testosterone, which — contrary to popular belief — plays a significant role in women's bodies, too. It's involved in mood, energy, muscle strength, and — yes — sexual desire.

Recent research indicates that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to lower testosterone levels in women. Over time, things get even worse: long-term alcohol use can impact the body's ability to produce testosterone, thereby affecting sexual desire in a more serious way.

Beyond the Bedroom

Here's the kicker: low libido and decreased testosterone levels can have ripple effects on our overall health, not just our lives in the bedroom. Lower testosterone levels can lead to fatigue and mood swings and can even decrease bone density. And a dwindling sex drive? It could impact our relationships and psychological well-being.

Alcohol and Risks

We can't discuss alcohol's impact on women's sexual health without addressing alcohol-related sexual assault. Multiple studies have established the correlation between alcohol consumption and increased vulnerability to sexual assault. We should be clear that the victims are not to blame — the responsibility lies squarely on the perpetrators. However, being aware of this risk is important for informed decision-making.

In some cases, predators deliberately use alcohol as a means to incapacitate their victims. It's referred to as drug-facilitated sexual assault, which involves the use of alcohol and/or other drugs to compromise an individual's ability to consent to sexual activity.

Drinks can be spiked with additional alcohol or substances without the person's knowledge, which lead to loss of consciousness or impaired ability to fight back. Situations like these underscore the importance of never leaving drinks unattended and accepting drinks only from trusted sources.

So, What Now?

While all of this information might feel overwhelming, remember that knowledge is power, and understanding how alcohol can impact our sexual health can help us make informed decisions that align with our lifestyle and health goals.

If you're considering cutting back or quitting alcohol, know that it's okay to take it slow. Make small changes, like swapping out every other drink for a non-alcoholic one or setting drink limits for social occasions. Reach out to a healthcare provider for personalized advice, especially if you're experiencing any concerns about alcohol use and sexual health.

And most importantly, remember that healthy sexual experiences come from more than just your alcohol consumption — open communication, consent, and mutual respect are key.

Cutting back on alcohol can also lead to an increase in testosterone levels and a resurgence of sexual desire. A study in 2022 saw women who reduced their alcohol intake significantly increase their testosterone levels, leading to enhanced libido and overall better health.

Remember, cutting back or quitting alcohol doesn't make you a party pooper. It makes you a health-savvy superheroine who values herself and her well-being. So, whether you enjoy your occasional glass of wine or are exploring an alcohol-free lifestyle, we wish you a wonderful journey to becoming a healthier, happier you.

Unlock a More Empowered YOU With Reframe!

Ready to take charge of your love life, kick your health up a notch, and experience the fun of romance without alcohol getting in the way? Well, you've landed in just the right place! Here at Reframe, we believe in reaching out with empathy and judgment-free support to folks just like you, helping you tap into your hidden potential. Our daily activities — which are rooted in neuroscience — along with our 24/7 anonymous Forum offer a great space for you to begin exploring and transforming into a healthier and happier version of you.

With over 2.1 million downloads (and counting!), we're subtly shifting the narrative around what it means to be sober or even sober curious. So why wait? Jump onto the Reframe app and kick-start your personal journey today! You can try it for the first 7 days absolutely free so there’s no risk! We can't wait to welcome you into our amazing community and we're eager to be a part of your transformative journey. See you in the app!

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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