Calculating contraceptive decisions while intoxicated

Contraception. 2013 Jun;87(6):850-4. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2012.10.007. Epub 2012 Nov 12.


Background: Experimental research in laboratory conditions indicates that intoxication makes unprotected sex more favorable to subjects, while event-level research indicates little causal effect of intoxication on condom use. Little work has addressed the effect of intoxication on hormonal contraceptive use.

Study design: This study analyzes in-depth interviews with 30 men and 30 women between the ages of 18 and 30 years on the East Coast of the United States about their contraceptive decisions and use.

Results: Respondents believed that frequent intoxication discouraged condom use and consistent contraceptive pill-taking. Their accounts suggested that intoxication discouraged calculated contraceptive decision-making, and consequently, they mostly reverted to their standard contraceptive habits. People who were consistent contraceptors sober were usually consistent contraceptors while intoxicated, and people who were inconsistent contraceptors sober were usually inconsistent contraceptors while intoxicated. This pattern applied to both condom use and hormonal contraceptive use.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Condoms
  • Contraception Behavior*
  • Contraceptives, Oral / administration & dosage
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Habits
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mid-Atlantic Region
  • New England
  • Primary Prevention*
  • Sexual Partners
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Southeastern United States
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptives, Oral