Students are more likely to have sex on days they’ve used marijuana or binged* on alcohol, according to new research on intercourse and condom use while under the influence.
Professor of psychological science at Oregon State University (OSU) in the US, David Kerr, also found binge drinking and being in a serious dating relationship were linked with less condom use, which puts young adults at risk for sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies.
The findings – published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs – came to light after researchers recruited 284 students to report on their marijuana use, alcohol use, sexual activity, and condom use every day for 24 consecutive days.
According to the professor, two findings stood out. He said: “Students in serious relationships had almost 90 per cent of the sex reported in our study, but serious partners used a condom only a third of the time – compared to about half the time among single students. More frequent sex, plus less protection equals higher risk.”
The stereotypical image of students drinking and having casual sex is ‘real’, he added. However, in the OSU study, he said it was ‘striking’ how often those in serious relationships were putting their guard down, indicating how people may judge risks differently while under the influence.
Results also showed how students may be more focused on preventing pregnancy than on protecting themselves from an STI, after the authors discovered condom use to be less likely and the use of other methods of birth control on the rise.
Describing this trend as ‘a concern’, Kerr said that, while young people may believe they are in a committed relationship, many don’t end up with their university partners in the long-run. He explained: “When people are in a serious relationship they may think, ‘We can stop using condoms’.
“But, if someone has unprotected sex with multiple monogamous partners over their college years, the risks can add up.”
Love and sex news: in pictures
Love and sex news: in pictures
1/10 'Female Viagra' approved
A drug dubbed the ‘female Viagra’ has finally been approved by the US Food and Drug administration but concerns have been raised over the drug’s possible side effects. Flibanserin, produced by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, was approved by the FDA on the third application in five years – after twice failing over concerns regarding possible side-effects.
2/10 Grindr users surveyed on sexual preferences
Grindr users are not that gay, at least according to a new survey. More than 300 users on the gay dating app, contacted by Pink News as part of an informal study, did not identifying as exclusively attracted to men. The study used the Kinsey scale, based on the work of sexologist Alfred Kinsey, which ranges from 0 (exclusively straight) to 6 (exclusively gay) and also allows identification as asexual (X). Pink News found that the average answer was around five, with the most frequent answer being five, followed by six and then four when they contacted users from their office in central London.
3/10 Watching porn does not cause negative attitudes to women
The average porn user may have more egalitarian views towards women than non-users, a contentious new study has suggested. Researchers at Western University in Canada have even argued that many pornography fans might be “useful allies” in women’s struggles for equality in the workplace and in public office. They reported in the Journal of Sex Research that the 23 per cent of people who said they had watched an “X-rated” film during the previous year were no more or less likely to identify as feminists than those who did not watch porn.
4/10 The characteristics of men who pay for sex
Men who pay for sex share similar traits to rapists and sex offenders, according to new research. A study from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), claims that men who have sex with female sex workers feel less empathy for them than men who do not buy sex. Part of this reason is due to the fact that they view them as "intrinsically different from other women,” according to the authors.
5/10 How much sex we have (and how much we'd like)
As a nation, we don’t have as much sex as we would like, a survey has (somewhat unsurprisingly) confirmed. In a poll of 1523 people by YouGov, 64 per cent of Britons said they would wish to have sex at least a few times a month. The same sample said that only 38 per cent had sex at least a few times a month. In addition, 10 per cent said they wished to have sex every day, a goal which only 1 per cent admitted reaching.
6/10 One per cent of Britons 'have never felt sexually attracted to anyone at all'
An estimated 1% of Britons have almost no interest in sexual activity, according to researchers. The identity, which describes rarely or never experiencing sexual attraction, has moved from a diagnosis of mental disorder in the past to a sexual orientation in its own right today. As public interest in “asexuality” grows, researchers at Glasgow University have found that romance and intimacy is still very much on the cards for those who take the label.
7/10 Women really are more attracted to men who make them laugh
Researchers at an American university have claimed that humour is a key factor in human “sexual selection”, with women appearing to be more attracted to men who make them laugh. Jeffrey Hall, an associate professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas, found that when two strangers meet, the more times a man tries to be funny and a woman laughs, the more likely she is to be interested in dating. The reverse was not true for women who attempted humour, according to his study “Sexual Selection and Humour in Courtship: A Case for Warmth and Extroversion,” which has been published in the Evolutionary Psychology journal.
STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images
8/10 What makes a perfect penis?
Scientists have now answered one of these great unknowns. According to a new study, “general cosmetic appearance” is the most important penile aspect when it comes to what women value down there. This is swiftly followed by the appearance of pubic hair, penile skin, and girth. Length comes in at number six, with the look of the scrotum trailing closely behind. The least important facet of the phallus, say the scientists, is the “position and shape of meatus”, the vertical slit at the opening of the urethra.
9/10 Students who marry after studying the same subject
Picking a university subject is already difficult enough for young people. But here’s an extra piece of data to weigh on your decision: you may be picking a life partner as well. Dan Kopf of the blog, Priceonomics, analysed US Census data and found that the percentage of Americans who marry someone within their own major is actually fairly high. About half of Americans are married, according to the 2012 American Community Survey (part of the Census). And about 28 per cent of married couples over the age of 22 both graduated from college. (The survey didn’t recognise same-sex marriages for the 2012 data, but it will for 2013 onwards, says Kopf).
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
10/10 Half of divorcees had doubts on their wedding day
Over half of divorcees considered abandoning their husband or wife-to-be at the altar on their wedding day, a new study has revealed. On top of likely worrying about wedding favours and making sure guests behave on their big day, 49 per cent of divorcees admitted they were unsure before the ceremony that their marriage would last. Some 15 per cent of divorcees polled said they were so wracked with doubt that they felt physically sick in the run up to their wedding.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Although the effect of binge drinking on sex and condom use may not sound like a new finding – with the professor explaining how dozens of studies have already compared the risk behaviours of college students who drink a lot versus those who do not.
However, describing how this research was different, Kerr said it tested whether a given person behaves differently on days they drink heavily, compared with days they do not.
The researchers’ findings now look set to be used by prevention professionals to improve sexual health messaging, identify the best times and places to distribute condoms, and encourage a focus – specifically on STI prevention, Kerr added.
Changes could be seen in the way ads and free condom campaigns target those in committed relationships in bars and or at parties, and health providers could also counsel young adults about STI prevention when they discuss a patient’s alcohol use, or when a patient seeks non-condom birth control.
*For the purposes of the study, ‘binge drinking’ was defined as four or more drinks for women, and five or more drinks for men
- More about:
- birth control
- Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs