It is common for people to contract sexually transmitted infections (STIs) when abroad; this is largely because people have a more relaxed attitude to sex when they are on holiday and this means that they may be more likely to have unprotected sex. Alcohol also plays a role, as drinking too much affects your judgement and this may mean that you do things on holiday that you wouldn’t do at home.
What are the symptoms to look out for?
Different sexually transmitted infections cause different symptoms but there are some general signs that you should look out for. If you have had unprotected sex or you have slept with somebody who you know has an STI, you should look out for the following warning signs:
What should I do if I think I have an STI?
If you think you may have an STI you should visit a doctor; many clinics in popular holiday resorts have English-speaking staff, so you should be able to communicate the problem easily. The most common treatment for STIs is antibiotic medication.
Sometimes it can take a while for symptoms to develop and you may have returned home before you notice symptoms; in this case, visit your doctor or a sexual health centre as soon as you identify symptoms for an STI test. The test is quick and it’s nothing to worry about; you should get he results very quickly and you will then be advised about treatment. If you are diagnosed with an STI, which is difficult to treat, such as genital herpes, which is a lifelong condition, you may be advised to see a specialist herpes doctor.
Preventing STIs on holiday
The only way to prevent STIs is to avoid having sex, but if you do find yourself in the situation where you want to have sex with somebody, make sure you use a condom. Even if you are already using contraception, such as the pill, the injection or the implant, this will not protect you against STIs and you should also use a condom. Do not have sex with somebody if you don’t want to or you don’t have a condom with you; the last thing you want is to get home and discover you have a sexually transmitted infection. Try to drink in moderation, as most people admit that they do things they would think of doing at home when they are drunk on holiday.
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