Safe sex over the summer

20 June 2016

Condoms—don’t leave home without them! Over the summer season of holidays and festivals it can be easier to get carried away and have unprotected sex, which could lead to a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or unintended pregnancy. Dr Caroline G. Turner, Specialty Doctor in Genito-Urinary Medicine, gives essential advice on staying safe this summer.

Photo: Dr Turner provides contraception advice at West Mid

Over the summer season of holidays and festivals it can be easier to get carried away and have unprotected sex, which could lead to a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or unintended pregnancy. Dr Caroline G Turner, Specialty Doctor in Genito-Urinary Medicine, gives her essential advice on staying safe this summer.

She advised: “Holidays are about enjoying yourself, relaxing, getting away from it all and doing things that you would not normally do at home. Even so, whether you are on holiday, at a festival, on a business trip or visiting friends and relatives, the fact that you are away contributes to that ‘anything goes’ feeling that can increase your chance of risky sexual relations. By taking a few simple precautions you can reduce your risk of catching an STI or an unintended pregnancy.” 

  • Watch your alcohol and drug consumption—the more you do, the more likely you’ll relax your inhibitions which could lead to condomless sex.
  • You can’t rely on appearances to tell whether someone has an STI or HIV—they may not even be aware that they are infected themselves. Always insist on using a condom—it offers the most effective protection. It only takes one episode of condomless sex to leave you with an unwanted pregnancy, STI, HIV or hepatitis B—don’t risk it.
  • Take a supply of condoms and make sure they have UK kite mark or European CE stamp which means they have been tested to high safety standards. Latex condoms can be easily damaged by oil-based products such as Vaseline, moisturiser, suntan lotion, baby oil and lipstick. Heat can also be a problem, so store them in a cool, dry place.
  • If you think you might have condomless sex abroad, ask your travel health adviser about vaccination to protect against hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBV is spread through sex and blood contact. It is a common infection worldwide, but especially in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean. It can cause a lifelong infection that can damage the liver (cirrhosis), resulting in liver failure. Many people don’t know that they are carriers and so spread the virus unknowingly. Condoms can protect against it.
  • If you’ve had sex while away, it’s worth visiting a sexual health clinic for a confidential check-up as soon as you return (visit one of our clinics or find your local clinic at www.fpa.org.uk or www.tht.org.uk). They can test for all the STIs including HIV. Untreated STIs can lead to serious problems such as infertility, but in the early stages they can be cleared up with a course of antibiotics. Remember, some STIs don’t have any symptoms at all. Equally, some symptoms don’t have anything to do with an STI. If you have an itch, don’t panic—just get yourself checked out.

Enjoy travelling and protect yourself—give yourself a trip to remember for all the right reasons.