When people drink, their decision-making skills are affected and they’re more likely to take big risks – like having unprotected sex. This can lead to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies.

Alcohol and sexual health

Anyone who drinks alcohol is likely to have experienced at least some short-term health effects like a hangover or a bad night’s sleep. Long term alcohol consumption and heavy drinking has more serious health consequences.

For example, men may not be able to get an erection, become unable to have children of their own and lose their facial hair. Women may stop having periods and start the menopause early. Alcohol also contains lots of calories. which can lead to weight gain.

Men and women trying to conceive should try avoid alcohol altogether. Even small amounts of alcohol can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle. Alcohol can also damage the quality, structure and movement of sperm.

Staying safe

Being drunk makes everyone more vulnerable to sexual assault. If someone tries to have sex with you and you don’t want to do it, you always have the right to say no.

If you’re out drinking, stay safe by sticking with friends, always use licensed taxis, never leave drinks unattended or accept drinks from strangers, and set boundaries around sex with your partner before you start drinking.

Underage drinking

While it might seem exciting to have an alcoholic drink, there are a lot of risks associated with underage drinking.

This DrinkAware video from Dr Sarah Jarvis explains them and is well worth a watch.

If you’re a parent, we know that it can be worrying if you think your child is drinking under age. DrinkAware has lots of excellent information on underage drinking, including how to talk to your child  and how to prevent teenage drinking.

Manage your drinking

Cutting out or reducing the amount of alcohol you drink is not easy but you’ll soon start to see the benefits to your health and wellbeing.

To better understand the effects of regularly drinking too much alcohol and the benefits of drinking less, we recommend you watch this video from drink aware:

The Drink Aware website is an excellent resource for finding out more about drinking and accessing tools to help you manage your drinking.  We’ve included some links to our favourite sites, pages and tools below:

  1. Alcohol and your health: DrinkAware’s facts on the health effects of alcohol
  2. Track your consumption: Download the free DrinkAware app to track the amount you’re actually drinking
  3. Test yourself: Are you drinking too much? Try Drink Aware’s free online alcohol self-assessment tool or Don’t Bottle It Up’s free online alcohol test. DontBottleItUp allows you to work out your level of risk you as a result of your drinking, to access personalised advice online and, where appropriate, find out where you can get face-to-face support locally
  4. Count the calories: Cutting down or giving up alcohol could make a big difference. Put your favourite drink into DrinkAware’s calorie calculator to see how many extra calories you’re consuming through alcohol
  5. Call Drinkline, the national alcohol helpline on 0300 123 1110. If you’re worried about your own, or someone else’s, drinking, you can call this free helpline in complete confidence weekdays from 9am to 8pm, and weekends from 11am to 4pm

Find local alcohol support services near you on the NHS Choices website.

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