Women with more sex partners turn to drink and drugs

NZ Herald 15 Feb 2013
Having multiple sexual partners is a significant predictor of women turning to drink and drugs in later life, a new study suggests. The study, based on a world-renowned programme that has followed 1000 people born in Dunedin 40 years ago, is believed to be the world’s first to show the pattern. Women who averaged more than 2.5 sexual partners a year in the years leading up to each interview with the researchers were 10 times as likely as women who had only one or no sexual partners a year to be clinically dependent on alcohol or drugs at age 21. They were seven times as likely by age 26 and 17 times as likely by age 32, even after allowing for all other factors in their lives. The relationship was weaker for men. A researcher in another long-running study in Christchurch, Dr Joe Boden, said the Dunedin finding was “novel” because everyone until now had thought the drink/sex linkage ran only one way – from alcohol to sex.

….One of the Dunedin authors, public health professor Charlotte Paul, said the study pointed to mental health risks for women in having many sexual partners, and the obvious physical risks of sexually transmitted diseases.