Safer Sex Practices this Festive Season—Do the Right Thing!

Couple on vacation
Sex is a healthy part of being an adult, but if you don't protect yourself, you can have an unplanned pregnancy or get a sexually transmitted disease (STD). STDs can be dangerous or deadly, like HIV.

Being aware of the signs of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), the risks related to safe sex on holiday and, how different forms of contraception can offer protection is all useful information worth knowing before those romantic encounters take place. What with all the cocktails, sun and sand it’s common for inhibitions to be lost entirely. But completely neglecting to practice safe sex on holiday can lead to serious regrets further down the line, for both men and women.

Here are our five tips on how to practice safe sex on holiday.

Be responsible

Everyone wants to enjoy themselves when outside the normal bounds of life back home, but remember that you are the only one who can protect yourself against STIs and pregnancy. Watch your alcohol and drug consumption abroad as this reduces your chances of practicing safe sex on holiday and always try to act responsibly.

Know the risks

Just because you’re relaxing in sunny climes doesn’t mean unprotected sex on holiday won’t have the same results as back home. Chlamydia, HIV, and unplanned pregnancy are all very real possibilities if you don’t practice safe sex on holiday. Also bear in mind that certain STIs may be more common in different communities abroad, so having unprotected sex could put you at even more risk than it would at home.

NEVER forget that 'condoms are always in fashion'

Every time you and your partner have sex, you should use condoms and dental dams. Every time you have sex without condoms, you and your partner exchange bodily fluids. This increases your risk of infection.

Also, read Guidelines for Effective Condom Use

Know the signs

Remember that not everybody who gets an STI has symptoms; research shows that around 50% of men and 75% of women don’t get symptoms at all with chlamydia, meaning they don’t even know they have it. However, HIV and other STIs are different; although HIV often causes no symptoms for several years, sometimes those who get infected may have flu-like symptoms and a rash or mouth ulcers two to six weeks after contracting the illness. With STIs, symptoms can vary, but the most common ones include:

Discharge from the vagina or penis
➥Itching, sores, and lumps on or around the genitals
➥Pain when peeing
➥In women, bleeding between periods or after sex

Remember: all contraception is not created equal

Condoms are 98% effective at avoiding pregnant and are also the only form of contraception that reduces your chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STI). If you are taking the contraceptive pill, know that traveling between time zones may affect the time at which you ingest it and getting this wrong may reduce its effectiveness. Vomiting too can reduce effectiveness so always use condoms to protect against pregnancy if you get sick abroad and are also sexually active.

Act fast

If you’re concerned that you might have picked up an STI whilst on vacation, don’t wait until you get home to see a doctor; try and find a sexual health clinic right away. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is an emergency medication that can be offered as a last resort for those at increased risk of HIV exposure (e.g. if a condom breaks). Some STIs can become apparent quickly and may have serious repercussions if left untreated. Often, antibiotics are required to cure diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea.

FINAL WORD: Practice safer sex

The more you know the person you're with, the easier it is to be safe. Safer sex is anything you do to lower your risk of getting an STD. Many STDs can last a lifetime, cause birth defects in babies, and make you sterile. To protect yourself, you need, to be honest about the risks you take and make a decision to be more careful.

Good sex should be enjoyed by all, but remember to stay safe wherever you are, with contraception and sexual health check-ups.

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