This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Binge drinking leads to increased sexual health risk

Sexual health

Sexual health

A study, in the International Journal of STD & AIDS, has assessed the alcohol intake of patients attending GUM clinics in a large city in the south of England. It found a high rate of binge drinking in patients, and that excess alcohol consumption leads to increased sexual risk.

The study included 520 consecutive patients, who were asked to complete a questionnaire. This was compared with a matched cohort from the most recent UK General Household Survey.

Clinic attendees binged heavily; the median intake of alcohol was 13 units on a ‘usual night' and 26 units on a ‘heavy night', compared with six units in the GHS cohort. Around 86% of clinic attendees exceeded the Government binge drinking level of six units, and 345 (65%) GUM clinic attendees were fast alcohol screening test positive, indicating a dangerous level of drinking.

Almost one-third of participants thought that alcohol played a role in their clinic attendance and 77% had been drinking before sex with a new partner. The prevalence of binge drinking was increased in the 29% of attendees diagnosed with a bacterial STI (P=<0.003).

Nineteen per cent of women reported an unwanted pregnancy and of these 28% reported drinking beforehand.

It is a shame the study did not comment on the age distribution of the sample. If alcohol statistics are to be believed, not only do we need to offer young persons a chlamydia screening pack, but also details of the nearest alcohol clinic.

Standerwick K, Davies C, Tucker L et al. Binge drinking, sexual behaviour and sexually transmitted infection in the UK. Int J STD AIDS 2007;18:810-3


Dr Richard Ma
GP principal, North London and staff grade in sexual and reproductive health, Margaret Pyke Centre, London

Rate this article 

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Have your say