Sexual Health Advice
I’m sure we’ve all watched a bit of “Embarrassing Bodies” even if we don’t want to admit it so we should cope with a few facts about sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- You are 3 times more likely to acquire an STI when having sex abroad.
- Alcohol, drugs and peer pressure can all increase the likelihood of casual sex abroad.
- Many infections are asymptomatic so your partner may not know they are carrying an infection.
- The highest risk is with penetrative sex but you can still catch one with oral sex and close genital contact.
- Using a condom reduces the risk but is not complete protection.
- Reliable condoms may be difficult to get in some countries so take them with you and make sure they carry the British Kite mark or European CE mark to guarantee quality and check expiry dates.
- Common infections include chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, trichomonas, herpes, hepatitis B, HIV.
What advice should we give?
- Try and abstain from casual sex.
- ALWAYS use a condom and take them with you.
- Be aware that you may be propositioned by sex workers - not only is there a greater risk of STIs but you may be endangering yourself with organised crime syndicates.
- Be aware that alcohol and drugs affect the decisions you make - usually to your detriment.
Hepatitis B and C and HIV are blood-borne viruses so are transmitted by contaminated blood products, needles eg tattoos, body piercing, acupuncture, medical procedures and unprotected sex.
- Avoid tattoos, body piercing, acupuncture and open razor shaves when travelling.
- Avoid casual sex and always use a condom.
- Consider hepatitis B immunisation - we are one of very few European countries that do not routinely immunise our children despite it being a recommendation by the World Health Organisation.
- In most of Europe, North America, Japan and Australasia donated blood is screened for HIV but this is not feasible in many developing countries. Only accept a blood transfusion when life-saving.
- Consider taking a first aid kit containing sterile needles and syringes but make sure they contain an explanatory certificate to make clearing customs easier.
If you’ve had sex abroad then make sure you get checked out at your GP or local GU clinic when you get home, even if you don’t have any symptoms. Sexual health testing is easy and pain free and treatment is effective.