If you’re out for more than a peck under the mistletoe this Christmas, we’ve got tips to help you stay safe while you’re having fun.
Alcohol can lower your inhibitions, making you more likely to take risks.
You might not go out intending to put your sexual health at risk, but when the alcohol is flowing, things like wearing a condom can often go out the window.
Watching your alcohol intake and knowing your limits can help you protect your sexual health. Drink Aware has some helpful advice on staying safe while drinking.
Stock up on condoms:
Condoms are your most important accessory this party season! As well as helping to prevent unplanned pregnancy they’re also the only method of contraception that’ll help protect you from STIs.
External (male) and internal (female) condoms are available from places like pharmacies, supermarkets, petrol stations and vending machines. You can also get them for free from contraception and sexual health clinics, young people’s services, and some outpatient department
Stock up before Christmas, and carry some with you when you’re out, so you can enjoy yourself without any last minute dashes to the local shop.
Check you’ve got enough contraception:
If you’re taking a regular form of contraception, make sure you’re covered for the whole Christmas period.
If you use the pill, patch or vaginal ring then check you have enough to last you until the holiday is over.
If you’re using a method of long-acting reversible contraception, make sure it’s not due to run out. If in doubt, use condoms for peace of mind.
Know where to go for help
Over the holidays many clinics will have reduced opening times, but there are places you can go and helplines you can call if you need help and advice.
5 safe sex rules to follow this season
1. Use protection every time you have sex:
The more sex you’re having, and the more people you’re coming into sexual contact with, the greater your chances of contracting an STI. No matter how well you think you know your partner, if you’re not 100% sure you’re safe with them, don’t take a risk. Sex is for a few minutes; STIs – and unplanned pregnancy – is for life. Remember that infection is spread through oral sex too.
2. Try to stay sober(er):
We don’t want to be a buzzkill and tell you not to get into the, ahem, spirit of the festive season. And while we wish the world was a safe place, no matter how tipsy you may be, it simply isn’t.
A drink or two is probably okay if you’re in a group and among people you trust. But try not to let it get out of hand. Not only does alcohol and drug consumption lower your inhibitions (making you more likely to engage in high-risk sexual behaviour), but it also puts you at risk of being taken advantage of in some truly awful ways.
3. Don’t jeopardise your personal safety:
Dating apps like Tinder make it super easy to hook up with strangers. And while a fling with someone new can be exciting and fun, there’s also a real element of risk. Don’t take a stranger home with you and don’t go to an unfamiliar place alone with them either. Always let a friend know where you are and who you’re with.
4. Spice up your relationship:
Holidays aren’t just for hook ups. If you’re in a committed relationship, there are loads of ways you can add some fire to your union and reignite the spark. Give your relationship a festive season gift!
5. Get the right contraceptives
The holidays shouldn’t end with an unplanned pregnancy. Find the contraceptive option that works best for you so you can enjoy fun, spontaneous sex without risk of pregnancy (but remember: contraception doesn’t protect against STIs, so never go without a condom unless you’re completely sure you and your partner are monogamous).