There are a number of factors to consider when it comes to practising safer sex and being on holiday.
People generally go on holiday to have a good time, relax, let their hair-down and try new experiences. We might lose some of the inhibition’s we would normally have at home this factored in with perhaps drinking or using other substances may mean that the choices we would normally make around sex could be compromised.
Along with the usual pre-holiday preparations it’s a good idea to factor in safer sex and think about all the essentials you might need.
Before you go away get stocked up on condoms, lube, dental dams, femidoms and any other safer- sex necessities most of which are available free in a variety of sizes, flavours, latex-free etc. from Birmingham LGBT’s sexual health services – you can either drop in anytime Monday to Friday 10.00 – 6.00pm to pick your requirements up in person or alternatively if you live in Birmingham or Solihull, you can have them sent by post again free of charge. See link below
You could also pop into Birmingham LGBT to speak to one of our sexual health team or come along to our Thursday sexual health clinic to speak to one of the nurses (drop in starts at 12.00) for some advice on how to look after your sexual health on holiday.
Check that you have you have enough oral contraception to cover your holidays duration and consider taking extra in case you develop a sickness bug, and be mindful of changing time-zones. Is emergency contraceptive pill (morning after pill) available in the country you are travelling to? It is worth researching this as you may want to take a supply with you.
It is safer to carry any medication in your hand luggage and in its original packaging ideally with your name on the labelling to identify it as being prescribed to you.
When buying travel insurance check to see that it covers travel insurance and what it covers, sexual health support can sometimes be overlooked when considering what we might need it for but could be very useful (and cut down on cost) if support, screening, prescribing, or contraception is needed whilst still on holiday.
Whilst on holiday remember to also store your safe-sex items carefully and away from direct heat as this can compromise their effectiveness. Also be careful when using lotions, sun cream or oils not to then handle condoms or dams as again these could cause damage and reduce their effectiveness, always wash your hands first.
If you run out and/or buy condoms abroad remember to look out for the ‘CE’ marking this means the product meets the safety standards required in Europe.
If travelling with others agree to look out for one another, when out partying, check in with each other or don’t let each other stray away for the group, knowing what your sexual boundaries are and what could possibly change them when you’re on holiday could help to pre-empt any unfamiliar situations, at the start of your holiday it might be useful to find out where you can access medical treatment.
Post-holiday If you have had unprotected sex or are concerned and would like to talk to someone and/or have a test even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms – STI’s can be symptomless or take a while to show any symptoms, you can attend one of our nurse-led sexual health drop-in clinics held every Thursday (12.00- last drop in appointment 6.30)
Alternatively, if you live in Birmingham or Solihull, you can order a sexually transmitted infection (STI) self-sampling kit from the Umbrella website, you can have your kit delivered to your home or another address, or collect it from an Umbrella pharmacy or clinic including Birmingham LGBT. See link below
For more information, please have a look on this website at the sexual health pages or contact a member of the sexual health team on 0121 643 0821