The research is the first major investigation into the effects of alcohol on the sex drives of men and women. Scientists from Finland and Japan measured levels of testosterone in male and female volunteers who had drunk moderate amounts of alcohol. Although levels increased in the women, the hormone was unaffected in the men. The scientists hypothesise that raised levels of testosterone, known to increase the libido of both sexes, can account for increased sexual desire of female drinkers.
The findings, published in Nature, show the effect is most marked in women taking the contraceptive pill, probably because they have low background levels of testosterone to begin with.
Dr Peter Eriksson, a researcher with Alko, the state alcohol company in Finland, said women need not be alarmed. Although a couple of drinks is enough to cause 'dramatic' rises in testosterone, women can still remain in control, he said. 'Many of them instinctively know alcohol can do this and so they learn to be careful.'