Safe Sex While Travelling
It has been said over and over that the only safe sex is no sex at all, but there are ways to have safer sex, such as by using a condom, ensuring adequate birth control and using common sense, and these can be particularly important while you are travelling.
Condoms and Safer SexThe cornerstone of safer sex is to always use a condom. Even if women are using other forms of birth control, condoms are still necessary to prevent skin to skin contact and the transfer of bodily fluids that can result in the transmission of a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD), sometimes also called a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) and HIV. Condoms should be purchased in the UK and bear the European kitemark so that you know that they meet strict safety standards. Condoms should be stored in cool, dry areas out of direct sunlight and should never be used with suntan lotion or baby oil as oil-based formulas can be damaging. Condoms should be used each and every time you have sex, including for vaginal, anal and oral intercourse.
Birth Control AbroadBirth control is viewed differently around the world, which means that price, brand and availability can differ from what it is in the UK. If you use a preferred birth control method then be sure to 'top up' before leaving home. Bring an extra supply of contraceptive pills with you, make sure that you have a contraceptive injection on schedule before travelling and discuss how travelling may affect your contraceptive method with your doctor. Again, birth control helps to prevent pregnancy but only a condom can prevent the transmission of an STD/STI and HIV. If birth control is not taken regularly or there is a disruption to your schedule, always use a condom as well, as your protection against pregnancy may be lowered.
Common Sense Safer SexWhen women travel they may find that they indulge in more alcohol than normal or otherwise have lowered inhibitions. This may mean that women will engage in riskier behaviours, including have un-protected or less-protected sex. Use common sense to help keep yourself safe. Avoid overindulging in alcohol, say no to illicit drugs, always let others know where you are and who you are with, and do not hesitate to say no or leave an area if you feel that an activity is getting out of hand. If you are interested in having sex while travelling, insist on using a condom and carry one yourself so that you can be sure you are always prepared.
If you are uncomfortable with the location of a rendezvous make your thoughts known, and remember that having sex on a beach can be risky for your health as sand may tear a condom and having sex in the ocean or another body of water is not protection against STDs and pregnancy.
Safer sex requires a little planning and some common sense, but it is by no means impossible while travelling. To find out more about safer sex, ask your local GP or drop into a Genitourinary (GUM) clinic before you travel. If you come home concerned about your sexual activities while abroad, visit a GUM clinic immediately for all necessary tests.