Common ailments

Holiday advice: Safe sex

My friends and I are going on a girl’s holiday to Corfu this summer to celebrate finishing our A’ levels. I am not planning to have sex while on holiday but would like to be prepared just in case. I am already taking the contraceptive pill for a skin complaint so will I need to use condoms as well?

Unprotected sex on holiday can have the same results as unprotected sex at home – sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia and HIV, and unplanned pregnancy. Whilst the contraceptive pill offers some protection against pregnancy, it does not protect against STIs.

Used properly, condoms are 98% effective in preventing STIs and further reduce your chances of becoming pregnant. Be sure however to check the condom pack displays a Kite mark or European CE mark. This indicates that the condoms have been tested to the highest standards.

As you are taking the contraceptive pill, bear in mind that travelling between time zones may affect the time at which you must take it. The effectiveness of some contraceptive pills is greatly reduced when taken at different times of the day. Vomiting can also reduce their effectiveness so, if you’re sick, you should use condoms to protect against pregnancy.

If you think you may have contracted an STI while on holiday, don’t wait until you get home to see a doctor. Some STIs can have serious repercussions and a course of antibiotics is often all that is needed to cure STIs such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea. You may have to pay for any prescriptions but if you travel with an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) then the cost will be far less, perhaps even free. The EHIC can be used to cover any necessary medical treatment due to either an accident or illness within the EU and you can apply for a card online, free of charge, by visiting www.nhs.uk. Other unofficial websites may charge for the service.

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