Researchers from Centers of Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at the Miriam Hospital surveyed 297 college-aged women (out of an initial pool of 500) about their reported 1,856 encounters of heterosexual intercourse. Participants took a monthly survey for one year answering questions about their every day diet, overall health, sexual encounters and numbers of sexual partners. Contrary to popular belief, the data indicated that women were no less likely to use condoms while drinking than while sober.
While only 20 percent of all reported intercourse involved alcohol consumption, a little over half of that percentage occurred after "heavy episodic drinking" (four or more drinks). Condoms were used 70 percent of the time when drinking was involved and only 59 percent of the time when the participants were sober. Interestingly, the study found that women were more likely to use condoms during casual sexual encounters after a night of drinking (74 percent of the time) than when sober with a long-term partner (55 percent of the time).
While this suggests that women are more likely to grab a condom when drunk, it does not mean that drinking leads to safer sex. The correlation probably comes down to relationship type -- both condoms and alcohol are more likely to be used with a casual sex partner than in a monogamous relationship. These results suggest that for the majority of women, alcohol consumption does not interfere with their ability to make a responsible decision about condom use.
It's also important to note that although women in monogamous relationships are less likely to use condoms than those who are not, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t using other forms of contraception, such as the birth control pill or an IUD. We would imagine (and hope) that many of the women interviewed who are in long-term relationships spoke with their partners about STDs and the importance of getting tested before they stopped using other protective barriers.
The researchers found that women used condoms during 61 percent of all reported instances of intercourse. If these results are any indication, most women are having sober sex with a condom, and those that are drinking and having sex are still using condoms. Whether it is monogamous partner sex or casual sex, the majority of women seem to be making responsible sexual choices -- and alcohol has little to do with them.
[H/T RH Reality Check]
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Keeps Your Blood Flowing
According to Dr. Jennifer Berman, co-founder of the Female Sexual Medicine Center at UCLA, orgasms increase your circulation, keeping the blood flowing to your genital area. This in turn keeps your tissue healthy!
It's A Form Of Cardio
Although it can't be considered an alternative to daily exercise, having an orgasm is a cardiovascular activity. "Your heart rate increases, blood pressure increases [and your] respiratory rate increases," says Berman. And because it's akin to running in many physiological respects, your body also releases endorphins. Sounds like a pretty fun way to work your heart out.
Lifts Your Mood
Feeling down in the dumps? An orgasm might be just what you need to pick yourself up. In addition to endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin are also released during orgasm. All three of these hormones have what Berman terms "mood-enhancing effects." In fact, dopamine is the same hormone that's released when individuals use drugs such as cocaine -- or eat something really delicious.
Helps You Sleep
A little pleasure may go a long way towards a good night's rest. A recent survey of 1,800 women found that over 30 percent of them used sexual release as a natural sedative.
Keeps Your Brain Healthy
Having an orgasm not only works out your heart, but also your head. Barry Komisaruk, Ph.D. <a href="http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/tips-moves/orgasm-news" target="_hplink">told <em>Cosmopolitan</em></a> that orgasms actually nourish the brain with oxygen. "Functional MRI images show that women's brains utilize much more oxygen during orgasm than usual," Komisaruk says.
It's A Natural Painkiller
One thing that Victorian practitioners may have been onto is that orgasms can work to soothe certain aches and pains -- namely migraines and menstrual cramps. (So now you know what to do next time you have a headache if you don't feel like popping an Excedrin.) According to Berman, the contractions that make up an orgasm can actually work to evacuate blood clots during your period, providing some temporary relief.
It Relieves Stress
Most of our lives are so hectic that it's hard to even imagine being relaxed. However, it turns out that <em>sexual</em> release can double as <em>stress</em> relief. Not only do the hormones help with this task, Berman says that being sexual also gives our minds a break: "When we're stressed out and overextending ourselves, [we're] not being in the moment. Being sexual requires us to focus on one thing only."
Gives You A Healthy Glow
There actually might be something to the idea that we "glow" after sex. The hormone DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), which shows <a href="http://www.ivillage.com/secret-health-benefits-sex/4-a-283856" target="_hplink">increased levels during sexual excitement</a>, can actually make your skin healthier.
Aids Your Emotional Health
Last but not least, when you know what it takes to make yourself orgasm, you may increase your emotional confidence and intelligence. "When you understand how your body works and ... [that it] is capable of pleasure on its own, regardless of your partner status, you make much better decisions in relationships," says Logan Levkoff, Ph.D., a sexologist and certified sexuality educator. "You don't look to someone else to legitimize that you're a sexual being."