Women's Alcohol Sensitivity Predicts Alcohol-Related Regretted Sex

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2017 Sep;41(9):1630-1636. doi: 10.1111/acer.13447. Epub 2017 Aug 10.


Background: Low sensitivity (LS) to alcohol's acute effects is a known risk factor for heavy drinking and its negative consequences. However, LS could be protective due to LS drinkers being less impaired at a given level of consumption. Here, we tested whether LS is associated with differences in men's and women's reports of alcohol-related regretted sex.

Methods: Eight hundred and one young adults (393 women) aged 21 to 35 (M = 23.11 years) recruited for a study of alcohol's effects on cognition completed self-report measures of alcohol sensitivity, typical alcohol use, and alcohol consequences (including regretted sex).

Results: Participants whose alcohol sensitivity scores classified them as LS were more likely to experience alcohol-related regretted sex than were high-sensitivity (HS) participants. However, when controlling for typical alcohol use and experience of alcohol consequences in general, alcohol sensitivity was negatively associated with risk of alcohol-related regretted sex, but only among women.

Conclusions: At a given level of consumption, and controlling for experience of alcohol consequences other than regretted sex, reduced sensitivity to certain effects of alcohol may be a protective factor for women against risk for alcohol-related regretted sexual situations. This study provides insight on the unique risks of drinking among LS and HS women.

Keywords: Alcohol Consequences; Alcohol Sensitivity; Alcohol Use; Alcohol-Related Regretted Sex; Sex Differences.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication
  • Central Nervous System Depressants / pharmacology*
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Emotions
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Self Concept
  • Sexual Behavior / drug effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Unsafe Sex
  • Young Adult


  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Ethanol