One thing that is often forgotten about in terms of travel is sexual health. The sun tan lotion, the clothes are all packed but commonly enough items such as condoms, and specific vaccinations are easily dismissed, forgotten or both.
Evidence is clear that many young travelers admit to having unprotected sex while abroad. One recent study in regards to UK travelers, showed that one in 10 men and one in 20 women reported having sex with a new partner while abroad. Among this group, nearly three-quarters of men and more than half of women reported having sex with at least one new partner from outside the UK while overseas. Sexual contact can be much riskier abroad, as sexually transmitted diseases can often be higher in rate in many of the countries you visit.
This makes it is incredibly important that you get good sexual health advice during any travel consultation. Diseases that you can catch if not taking precautions include HIV, Hepatitis B, Gonorrhoea, Syphillis, Chlamydia, Herpes and even Scabies and Public Lice, both of which can not only be transmitted by unprotected sex but also via prolonged intimate contact. Some of these infections can be more serious than others. Gonorrhoea, for example, can cause symptoms very quickly but others can be silent for some time and may linger on for many years without any symptoms, like chlamydia. Chlamydia can cause infertility many years later, when the holiday romance has long been forgotten.
Some of these diseases are vaccine preventable, such as Hepatitis B. However, some key things you must do and include – bringing condoms, avoid sex with professional sex workers, limit the amount of alcohol you drink and as mentioned, get vaccinated.
However, the ultimate message is this - if you end up meeting someone, before you decide to get passionate, there should be one more thing on your mind: safe sex.
Tropical Medical Bureau offer Sexual Health Advice, Vaccinations and Screenings in the clinics nationwide. Find your closest clinic HERE.
For more information about sexual health you can also visit thinkcontraception.ie
This post was contributed by Dr Kunal D Patel who is a Travel and Tropical Health Physician and Global Health Expert working at the intersections of Digital Health and developing world healthcare training and education. Among many things he is the Medical Director of iHeed, an online medical education platform. Dr Patel also runs a popular podcast called The Doctor Paradox. Listen to it Here