Women, alcohol, and sexuality

Recent Dev Alcohol. 1995:12:267-85. doi: 10.1007/0-306-47138-8_18.


Alcohol consumption increases subjective sexual desire, arousal, and pleasure for many women, although it lowers physiological arousal. Despite the general belief that alcohol disinhibits female sexual behaviors, alcohol leads to changes in sexual behavior only for a minority of women. Expectancies about the effects of alcohol on sexual behavior may be important mediators of the alcohol-sexual behavior linkage. There also is a relationship between overall alcohol consumption and risky sexual behavior for women, but when alcohol use at or preceding individual instances of sexual activity is examined, there is no association in the majority of studies. Alcohol use by both perpetrators and victims has been implicated in instances of sexual victimization. Heavy alcohol consumption and alcohol problems in women are associated with heightened risk of childhood incest, sexual assault, and sexual dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Arousal / drug effects
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Homosexuality, Female / psychology
  • Humans
  • Incest / psychology
  • Internal-External Control
  • Libido / drug effects*
  • Personality Development
  • Psychosexual Development
  • Set, Psychology
  • Sexual Behavior / drug effects*