Safe Sex on Holiday
Last year we wrote about where Brits were having the most unprotected sex on holiday. This year we’re back with a bit more detail on how to stay safe if you end up having a holiday romance while you’re abroad. If you’re headed to Benidorm, pay extra attention.
Remember to pack condoms
While you’re out shopping for your usual holiday essentials like sunscreen, make sure you pick up condoms too. Remember that you can get condoms for free at your local sexual health clinic, or if you feel uncomfortable picking some up in person you can buy them online too.
In 2011, a Co-op Pharmacy survey found that a fifth of people asked had had unprotected sex on holiday because they didn’t have any condoms with them. Having condoms to hand means that you won’t be relying on the other person to be prepared, or be tempted to have unprotected sex if neither of you have them.
If you remember to take condoms with you, don’t be shy about asking your partner to use one. The same survey found that one in eight women said they felt too embarrassed to ask about contraception when they were with a new partner. Ask, and don’t take no for an answer - there’s no documented medical reason that a person can’t use a condom. No excuses.
STIs aren’t the only reason you should be packing condoms. Sickness and diarrhoea as well as certain medicines like anti malaria tablets can make the contraceptive pill less effective. Condoms help to protect against both pregnancy and STIs.
If you forget to pack them, buy them.
There’s no shame in taking responsibility for your sexual health, and if you find that you’ve forgotten to pick up condoms before going on holiday, go out and buy some. Seriously, you never know and it’s better to be prepared rather than wishing you had.
When you’re buying condoms abroad look out for the CE mark (pictured below) because this means that they’ve been tested to the high safety standards required in Europe. However, depending on where you’re going on holiday you might not be able to get CE marked condoms, which is why buying them before you leave is best.
Getting tested for STIs regularly should be part of your routine, whatever your plans for your summer or your holiday happen to include. On top of a check-up every 6 months (or thereabouts) you should also take an STI test whenever you have unprotected sex and are unsure of your partner’s status.
Depending on where you’re travelling to, rates of certain STIs might be higher than here in the UK and you could be more at risk of catching one by having unprotected sex. You might not always be able to tell if someone’s got an STI either.
For some STIs - such as chlamydia - it’s recommended that you wait two weeks after potential exposure to get tested, otherwise the test might not pick it up, and you’ll think you’ve got the all clear when you’re actually infected.