Sexual Health and Travel

04.09.2019 Category: Sexual Health Author: Dr Belinda Griffiths

Holidays are a time to relax, unwind and have fun!

However, this excitement can lead to us making decisions we may not usually make when we are at home. If you have unprotected sex whilst abroad whether it is oral, vaginal or anal you are at risk of catching sexually transmitted infections.

You could be at risk of catching these common STIs:  HIV, chlamydia, HPV, herpes, syphilis and gonorrhoea.

What can you do to prevent an STI?

Abstaining from sex is the most reliable way to avoid infection. However, if you wish to be sexually active follow some of the tips below:

  • Use a condom from start to finish every time during sex including oral, vaginal and anal.
  • Get vaccinated to protect against diseases such as Hepatitis B and HPV.
  • Do not assume that your partner is STI-free. Talk openly and discuss your sexual health histories.
  • Taking drugs and/or alcohol can lead to bad decisions. Be cautious when having sex whilst inebriated as you are more likely to take risks. These include not wearing a condom or having sex with someone you usually would not.

What are the symptoms of an STI?

Symptoms are different depending on the infection. Some diseases also do not cause any symptoms which makes them very hard to spot. If symptoms do occur, they could be some of the following:

  • Pain when you urinate or have sex
  • Discharge from the vagina, penis, or anus
  • Unexplained rash, sore, or ulcer on your skin, genitals, or throat
  • Jaundice (yellow colour of the skin and eyes)

What do you do if you think you have an STI?

Having an open and honest conversation, discussing your sexual health with your doctor is a good start to help guide you towards any tests or medication that you may need.

Long-term problems can be prevented by testing for STIs early and also prevent the spreading to other partners.

If you are worried that you may have an STI you should:

  • Not have sex with anyone. This will reduce the risk of spreading the disease to anyone else.
  • See a doctor or nurse as soon as possible.
  • Discuss your sexual history and international travel with the doctor or nurse as some diseases are more common in some countries.
  • If you have a positive result notify your recent partners. They may also be infected and unaware.

Fleet Street Clinic offers a discreet and trusted sexual health service including confidential sexual health advice, instant testing, and comprehensive STI screening.

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