As “silly season” approaches, those of us who partake in the alcoholic beverage will be provided with more opportunities to indulge than ever. Cocktails, boozy braais and end of year functions are going to leave many a liver quivering in the corner. But the problem is that alcohol is not only a potential threat for your liver, but it may also prove to be an indirect threat to some of your more intimate body parts too!
When we drink, it impairs our ability to make good life choices consistently, and this is something to consider before we throw caution to the wind and decide to get shamelessly festive. Here’re some points to ponder:
- In a study done in the US, young people were 23% less likely to use a condom during sex when they were drunk 
- 75% of sexual assault perpetrators admitted to drinking alcohol before the incident 
- Young adult drinkers are twice as likely to have a sexually transmitted infection than non-drinkers
So, what can you do to combat this behaviour and hope to prevent a hangover fueled with remorse?
- It seems obvious, but moderation is first prize. Know when you’ve had enough and try and not make any life-changing decisions while you are under the influence. Even two units of alcohol (2 small glasses of wine) can seriously impair your judgment if you’re sensitive
- Be prepared. Keep condoms and sachets of water-based lube on you always during the holidays. Be optimistic, you never know when you may score!
- Get real with yourself. If you are HIV-negative and know that you are likely to engage in a risky sexual behaviour, then chat to your doctor about going onto pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). It may lessen the chances of HIV infection by more than 92%. Bear in mind that it will not protect you from other sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis or herpes, though
- So, it’s not just driving and operating heavy machinery that you should think twice about doing if you’ve been putting some liquor away. If you are going to be indulging, use an Uber rather than driving and use a condom when having sex. That way you’ll ensure that it is a merry festive season, rather than a time of reckoning
Bruce J. Little is a contributing writer for Anova Health Institute and these are his views, which may or may not reflect those of Anova and its affiliates.
 Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 76(5): 733-737.
 Sexual assault was measured using the revised Sexual Experiences Survey. Kingree, J. B. and Thompson, M. (2015). A Comparison of Risk Factors for Alcohol-Involved and Alcohol-Uninvolved Sexual Aggression Perpetration. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 30(9):1478–1492.
 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The NSDUH Report: Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Substance Use. Rockville, MD: Office of Applied Studies; March 20, 2007. Accessed November 20, 2015 at: http://archive.samhsa.gov/data/2k7/std/std.pdf