BETTER orgasms, heightened arousal and feeling a deeper connection with partners are all potential benefits of Dry January.
Celebs Davina McCall, Kate Moss, Leona Lewis, Melanie Sykes and Zoella are all teetotal, while writer Millie Gooch, 31, gave up alcohol in 2018 after realising it was taking over her life.
She says: “When people ask me if I stopped drinking because I had a problem, I say yes – and follow up with, ‘But had I continued, I would’ve had a much bigger one’.
“I’ve got so many stories about the things I did drunk.
“I’ve upset people, hurt myself and others. I’m surprised I have any friends left.
“You needn’t wait for drinking to take everything before you remove it from your life.”
In 2019, Millie set up The Sober Girl Society on Instagram to connect with others embracing sobriety.
Now the Londoner has more than 100,000 followers – and in The Sober Girl Society Handbook, extracted below, she reveals the benefits of going dry, like better sex.
1. BETTER SEX
Orgasms happen in the brain, so drinking can dampen sexual response and decrease intensity of your orgasm.
It’s also harder to climax, so you can probably kiss any chance of a multiple one goodbye.
Even if your drinking habits aren’t dry, you might be.
Sexual arousal needs a certain volume of blood to bring oxygen and greater sensation to the genitals – it’s how we self-lubricate.
Thanks to booze, there won’t be as much liquid in the body and your nervous system will be depressed, so you may struggle to get lubricated enough to enjoy sex.
When you use alcohol as a defensive shield against the more raw emotions you might experience during sex, such as insecurity or awkwardness, you risk numbing out all the good bits too.
Cate Campell, BACP-accredited sex, relationship and trauma therapist said: “When you’re drinking, it’s harder to become aroused and orgasm.
“So someone might think they need a drink to make it better when they actually need not to.”
Another advantage of giving up booze is you’re more likely to have fewer arguments with your other half.
Cate explains: “About 40 per cent of my coupled clients cite booze as a problem in the relationship.
“Sometimes, people only have the courage to mention problems after a drink, or blurt things out then regret it.”
Many studies have shown you are more likely to have unprotected sex if you’ve been drinking, and there’s a huge link between STDs and alcohol consumption.
2. BETTER MENTAL WELL-BEING
Alcohol is no good for your immune system, and a poorly one can contribute to inflammation in the body, which is associated with mental health disorders, such as depression.
A study, published in 2019 showed that lifetime alcohol abstainers report the highest level of mental well-being.
Another study from Singapore concluded that bingeing was found to be associated with a myriad of mental health conditions, including anxiety, and binge-drinkers reported a poorer quality of life compared to their non-bingeing counterparts.
3. HEALTHIER ORGANS
There isn’t a single part of your physical health that won’t be improved by binning the booze. Even light-to-moderate drinking can increase your risk of developing life-threatening diseases such as breast cancer.
As women have a higher percentage of body fat and a lower percentage of water than men, they’re at a greater risk of developing conditions that are a result of the negative impacts of alcohol, such as liver disease and heart damage, because it’s more concentrated in the blood.
If you drink too much, fat will start to build up in your liver and damage cells around it. If you take a break the liver can repair itself, but if you drink too much you could scar the liver — this is known as liver cirrhosis and is irreversible.
Symptoms include vomiting blood, yellow skin, swollen legs and a bulging stomach.
When it comes to the heart, drinking weakens the muscle. Alcohol also poisons the heart which can eventually lead to heart failure.
Even light-to-moderate drinking can raise the risk of developing an irregular heartbeat, and alcohol is the leading preventable cause of hypertension (increased blood pressure), which can result in heart attacks and strokes.
4. MORE ATTRACTIVE
Your skin, nails, hair — and even your eyes will massively benefit by giving up the booze. It depletes your vitamin A reserves, which are essential for keeping your skin firm and youthful.
It also causes the blood vessels in your skin to dilate, which makes dark circles more obvious.
Your nails are an indicator of your overall health because they need a constant supply of nutrients to grow well.
As your nails aren’t a vital organ, your body doesn’t prioritise them when distributing nutrients and they can end up brittle, pale and peeling. Because of dehydration, your hair can become dry and more likely to fall out if you’re drinking a lot.
5. BETTER IMMUNE SYSTEM
When I was drinking, I was forever succumbing to colds, and for days after I’d been out I rarely ever felt the picture of health.
Immunologist Dr Jenna Macciochi, author of The Science Of Staying Well, told me that booze has a direct impact on our immune system, as well as affecting it indirectly through poor-quality sleep.
6. A SMOOTHER CYCLE
Women who drink excessive amounts of alcohol can experience menstrual disorders including amenorrhea (an absence of a period for three or more months), irregular cycle lengths and anovulation (an absence of ovulation in a cycle).
Despite the pain and discomfort periods can cause, it’s essential to recognise they are vital and necessary to reproductive health.
7. BETTER SLEEP
Dozing off under the influence of alcohol will never offer you a fully restful night’s sleep, even though you might be fooled into thinking it will.
While you might have no trouble nodding off initially, your sleep cycle gets massively disrupted after a few bevvies – particularly the REM (rapid eye movement) stage, which is important for mental health and overall well-being.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes, a study which involved depriving rats of REM sleep, significantly shortened their life span from two or three years to just five weeks.
8. A BIGGER BRAIN
The short-term effects of alcohol on the brain can include blurred vision, slurred speech and difficulty walking.
Over time, other effects of alcohol become scarier and more extreme — in the long term, even moderate drinking can cause brain damage.
Your brain cells can start to change and get smaller, and too much booze actually shrinks your brain, affecting how you think, learn and remember things.
According to Professor David Nutt, at least one in five cases of dementia is probably the result of long-term alcohol consumption.
And an extensive 30-year study found evidence of faster cognitive decline in people who drank up to seven units each week (two large glasses of wine is six units) than in teetotallers — showing that even moderate drinking may damage the brain.
- Sober Girl Society Handbook: An empowering guide to living hangover-free by Millie Gooch (Bantam Press, £12.99) is published on January 14.
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