Safer Sex Tips For the Holiday Seasonby Eileen Bailey Health Writer
The holiday season is about to heat up. Whether you are single or in a relationship, it is important to practice safer sex.
Nine months from September…
According to The New York Times, September is the most common month to give birth. Counting backward, that means December is the most sexually active month. Whether you simply want romance or get caught under the mistletoe, the holidays have a way of breeding a sense of connection and togetherness, even if it is short-lived.
Unplanned and unprotected sex can lead to undesired consequences. Besides pregnancy, you can end up with a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Preparation and planning are key. You might believe that preparation means you are just out looking for sex. But unneeded preparation is much better than unwanted consequences.
All about… condoms
Condoms are available in grocery stores, convenience stores, and pharmacies. You can find one 24 hours a day. Even so, it is good to always have one with you. Remember to check the expiration date (yes, condoms have an expiration date). Never have sex with a partner (unless in a committed relationship) who will not use a condom.
All about… birth control
Birth control is another must. If you use the pill, make sure you take one every day as prescribed. If you prefer a monthly shot, make sure you are up-to-date. When traveling, don’t forget to pack your contraception. If you aren’t on birth control medication, this might be a good time to explore your options.
Easy on the alcohol
Pace your alcohol consumption. Having too much to drink can make someone seem much more attractive than when you are sober, and it’s far too easy to do something you might regret while inebriated. Drink a glass of water or soft drink in between alcoholic drinks. When attending a party with friends, set up regular intervals to check on one another.
Think before you act
Make sure you are having sex with a person you like and respect. It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday frenzy, but if you don’t think the relationship will last till New Year’s, it might be a good idea to hold off on sex.
Have a conversation first
Discuss protection before having sex. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about protection and birth control or if you think it is going to scare the other person off, you probably aren’t with the right person.
What to do if preventative measures fail
If you do have unprotected sex or experienced a condom failure, don’t panic. There are steps you can take to protect yourself. The morning after pill greatly reduces your chance of a pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of having sex. Having a copper IUD inserted after unprotected sex can also help to prevent a pregnancy.
Plan to visit your doctor or a sexual health clinic after the holiday for STD/HIV tests. Some STDs, such as herpes, are transmittable even with condom use. If you are sexually active and not in a long-term, monogamous relationship, it is a good idea to get tested every six months. Start the new year off knowing you don’t have an STD.