What to do if you have unprotected sex on holiday

From getting tested to spotting symptoms, Your Sexual Health has got you covered

According to a YouGov survey conducted in 2017, Brits are more likely to have a one night stand on holiday. So whether you’ve been swept off your feet by the prospect of a holiday romance or you’ve found love on the dancefloor, you aren’t the first person to get a carried away on your travels. But what should you do if you’ve had unprotected sex on holiday?

Getting tested

If you’ve had unprotected sex on holiday, it’s important that you get tested. But before jumping into the nearest overseas clinic you’ll want to bear these few things in mind.

Don’t get tested too early

It might be everyone’s first instinct to get tested as soon as they wake up following a one night stand, especially if you’ve had unprotected sex on holiday. Unfortunately, although we can’t fault your attentiveness, it’s almost never the best thing to do. That’s because most STDs won’t show up on an STD test until at least 14 days post exposure, whilst standard HIV tests are only accurate after 28 days.

Testing before this window will lead to false negative results whereby you believe you’re in the clear, but in actual fact your STD is yet to come to the surface. Before you get tested check the incubation period for the test you’re taking and wait until it’s passed. If you do test before this period, you’ll want to get a re-test after the incubation period has passed.

Spot the symptoms

First things first, it’s important to know that just because you don’t have any symptoms doesn’t mean that you’re in the clear. Some people experience no symptoms at all. If you’ve had unprotected sex on holiday you should get tested as standard, but here are some of the tell tale signs of an STD: –

  • Unusual discharge that smells or is a funny colour
  • Sores, blisters, rashes or spots on or around the genitals
  • Unusual bleeding for women between periods or after sex
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Pain during urination and/or irregular urges to pee
  • Cold and flu like symptoms 1 – 3 weeks following exposure could be a sign of HIV

Testing options abroad

There are a range of reasons that you might want to get tested abroad. For example if you are living in the country for the entire holiday season for work or if you’ve already noticed symptoms. On these occasions you can visit a local doctor and describe the problem to them and they’ll do the appropriate tests.

By visiting a doctor overseas you’ll have to abide by the local procedures and costs when it comes to paying for your appointment, but depending on your insurance you may be able to claim this back. It’s worth remembering that you may still have to wait for your results following your test and these may not arrive for 2 or 3 days, by which point you may have returned to the UK.

The other way is by ordering an STI home test from Your Sexual Health to be delivered to your address overseas. If you’re on your way home soon, you can get one delivered to your home address to be waiting for you on your return.

Your Sexual Health can deliver sample collection packs to your overseas address which can be posted back to our laboratory or if required you can arrange an appointment with us for when you return.

Test as a precaution when you return

If you’ve had protected or unprotected sex on holiday, but you’ve not noticed any STD symptoms you should still get tested. Condoms aren’t effective 100% of the time and they aren’t effective against all STDs. There are a range of sexual health testing services available when you return to the UK, including your local NHS provider or private STI testing providers like Your Sexual Health. Routine testing is important for both your own and other people’s sexual health.

High risk situations

Some sexual situations are higher risk than others, such as engaging in sexual activities with a sex worker whilst on holiday. If you’ve paid for sex whilst on holiday, even if you used a condom you should be tested at the earliest opportunity on your return to the UK. Your Sexual Health offer a range of Early Detection tests which can diagnose HIV, hepatitis B and Hepatitis C just 10 days following exposure.

Getting treatment

If you’ve had unprotected sex on holiday that’s lead to an STD then you’ll want to get treatment as soon as possible. It’s important that you only get treated following a positive test as every STD has a different medical treatment and you’ll only receive the effective medication if the doctor knows what to treat.

In addition, if you take antibiotics without knowing for certain that you have an STD you reduce the chances of treating yourself effectively for future infections when you may really need it. You may also play your part in making STDs more resistant to antibiotics for everyone in future.

How to ensure you don’t make the same mistake

If you’ve had unprotected sex on holiday you’ve needlessly exposed yourself to sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Here’s how to make sure you don’t make the same mistake next time you go away.

Don’t forget the condoms

Let’s face it, when you go abroad the first thing you want to think about is finding the nearest bar or deciding what bikini you want to wear first. No one wants to be trailing around pharmacies or supermarkets looking for condoms. Make sure you’ve always got some to hand by packing them in the suitcase before travelling.

Don’t forget to use it

Many people think that having “the condom chat” ruins the mood. Take it for a fact that nothing ruins the mood of a holiday like an STD, so always have “the chat” and always use a condom before your holiday encounter.

Don’t get too carried away

Foam parties, pool parties, beach parties and boat parties. These are all opportunities to meet like minded holiday singles, but they’re very rarely the cleanest or most advisable places to have sex. Save the sex for the dry land of your hotel room wherever possible, as sex in any other location can make you forget to use a condom.

Get tested before you go abroad

If you’re a responsible sexually active single, do the right thing and get tested before you go abroad. This will reduce the risk to your sexual partners on holiday. You never know, you might sweep someone of their feet and have a holiday romance to remember, but lesions, rashes or unsavoury vaginal discharge will soon put an end to it.