Courting a dangerous mix
MANY men who have had a one-night stand will tell you they met the woman at a bar, or that they indulged in sex after she had had a drink or two at an office party, or that the woman was drunk and threw herself at the available man.
Doctor Ntsietso Mofokeng of Joburg, who specialises in liver diseases, says drunk women lose their inhibitions and tend to want more sex. He says women become more intoxicated than men after drinking the same amount of alcohol.
"Small amounts of alcohol oil the social wheels and reduce shyness, thereby making it easier for people to meet up," Mofokeng says.
"It also helps a lot of men and women relax and chat easily with each other. Similarly, a little wine or a cocktail will often make a person feel romantic or perhaps less uptight about sex."
He adds that alcohol makes people far more likely to have sex with the wrong person. So apart from falling pregnant and picking up infections, this type of affair can cause marriage break-ups.
In fact, he says alcohol is the main reason why there is a massive demand for the "morning-after pill".
"Due to the effects of alcohol on the brain, arousal is increased and desire to have sex goes up," Mofokeng explains. "So sex is more likely to occur after a few pots. This is very dangerous, particularly for women, since they can fall prey to an unwanted pregnancy, not to mention pick up sexually transmitted diseases."
But, while it is noted that some women respond well in bed after a moderate intake of alcohol, some women Sowetan spoke to claim that when they are drunk the ability to achieve orgasm decreases and their overall sexual response and satisfaction are considerably lowered.
Mofokeng warns that women's drinking patterns are different to that of men, especially when it comes to the type of beverage, amounts drunk and frequency.
He says that's why it is easy for a drunk woman to feel socially confident and drinking in small quantities might facilitate intense socialising and sexual communication.
"Women become more intoxicated than men when they drink the same amount of alcohol," he says. "They have approximately 10% more fatty tissue and less water in their bodies than men.
"This means that women attain a higher alcohol concentration in their blood than men for the same volume of alcohol consumed.
"Women have lower levels of alcohol dehydrogenase, an enzyme involved in the metabolism of alcohol. As a result women experience the effects of alcohol more quickly, and for longer than men.
"On average women weigh less than men and so have less tissue to absorb alcohol. Women's hormonal levels fluctuate during the menstrual cycle and this might affect the rate of alcohol metabolism in the body, causing women to experience higher blood alcohol levels at various points in the cycle."
Mofokeng warns that these women should never drink at all and this includes anyone under 21, anyone who takes medication that might react negatively with alcohol and anyone who is pregnant or trying to conceive.
Why are women fast becoming alcoholics?
Psychologist Thobani Maweni attributes this trend to life pressures. He says since it is no longer seen as a bad thing for a woman to drink, alcohol is society's drug of choice for dealing with stress.
"Women are expected to be perfect, good employees, beautiful, good mothers, sex goddesses, good wives, and more recently, providers," he says. "The pressure is becoming too much for them. Alcohol helps them smooth out jagged feelings and gives the illusion of feeling nurtured."
The workplace is another contributor, according to Maweni. He says these days workplaces are a highly competitive and pressurised environment for women. This drives them to bars and parties to unwind.
"Some women have men as drinking partners and end up taking the same amount of alcohol as men.
"This could lead to some men taking advantage of the situation and wanting to sleep with them. It is good that more women are out in the workforce and enjoying social life in bars and clubs - but the increase in women drunkards reflects a silent epidemic." - email@example.com
- This article was first published in the printed newspaper on 19 July 2012