Sex and Alcohol

What was your best sexual experience? 

When we talk about a sexual experience, it could be defined any way you like, whether a kiss or intercourse or other activities. For most people, sexual experiences are best when bodies are free from drugs, including alcohol.  For U-M students who choose to drink alcohol, most say they had their best sexual experiences when they were sober, had one drink or at the most two standard drinks. 

Consider the following for the best sexual experiences possible:

  • When sober, or with very low amounts of alcohol, people are more likely to be able to maintain an erection, to have adequate vaginal lubrication, and feel more heightened pleasurable sensations.
  • Have trouble with experiencing orgasm? Being sober makes orgasms more likely to happen.
  • When you can communicate clearly (in other words, when you’re not confused or drowsy from alcohol), you can talk with partners about what you each like sexually. This can lead to greater satisfaction with the experience.
  • Trying to avoid STIs and/or pregnancy? Being sober, or having small amounts of alcohol, can make it easier to stay on track with your goals for safer sex, consistent contraceptive use, and making deliberate choices about what sexual activities you want (or don’t want) to engage in.

In addition to enhancing sexual experiences, being sober helps promote respectful interactions between partners or potential partners:

  • When you’re sober, it’s easier to think clearly about how you want to treat people. Being sober helps you remember to speak and act in ways that show your partners that you respect them and you’re in control of yourself.
  • Think about the sexual activities you would or would not be interested in doing. Ask any potential partners about what they want and don’t want to do. And, while thinking about boundaries ahead of time may be helpful, it’s always OK to change your mind about what you want to do.
  • Alcohol affects everyone differently, so being sober when giving and getting consent helps make sure that everyone involved is freely and deliberately choosing to participate in the sexual activity.
  • Having sex only when everyone’s sober can safeguard your future goals by reducing the chance of legal or University disciplinary actions. Alcohol is the substance used most frequently used to facilitate sexual assault on college campuses. (Read more on the SAPAC website.) If everyone’s sober, your consent conversation will be much more likely to reflect everyone’s true desires about a sexual encounter.

Being mindful about drinking if sex may be in the picture:

  • If you choose to drink, see Stay in the Blue for ways to get what you want without what you don't.  Download the app for quick connections to Uber and taxis to get home safely.
  • Remember to bring the safer sex items you might need (like condoms, dental dams and contraceptives) with you. Visit UHS Wolverine Wellness (suite 2110, 2nd floor) for free safer sex items.
  • If you had unprotected sex and could get pregnant, consider Emergency Contraception.
  • For confidential resources and support related to sexual assault, stalking, or sexual harassment, see the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC). For immediate assistance, call the SAPAC Crisis Line (24/7) at (734) 936-3333.

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