Close X
Health Professionals Log In >

Holiday sex & flings

Holidays offer the chance to meet new people and maybe to have sex with them or to get closer to someone you already know.

But with alcohol a major part of many holidays and high rates of sexual infections in some destinations, it pays to take extra care.

Where are the condoms?

A trip to the pharmacy probably isn't the first thing on your mind when you get to your holiday paradise. Depending on where you're headed, you might not even be able to find a reliable supply of trustworthy condoms.

Be prepared for whatever you might get up to and, before you go, stock up on condoms and other sex essentials If you have to buy condoms when you are abroad always make sure you buy ones with the CE mark to ensure they are safe.

Remember not to leave them out in the sun as this can damage them, store them in a cool dry place and be careful of sun cream, baby lotion and other oil-based products that can damage condoms. Make sure you wash your hands between rubbing on the sun lotion and handling a condom.

Remember to play safe

Holidays are all about forgetting your day-to-day worries and relaxing - but that doesn't mean you can forget about practising safer sex.

Rates of serious sexually transmitted infections like syphilis and HIV are much higher in some parts of the world than in the UK. Most new cases of HIV infection among heterosexuals are caught while abroad.

You can’t tell by looking at someone if they have an STI or HIV so make sure you always use a condom.

Know the risks and how to reduce them – check our section on safer sex alternatives.

Oh and remember that sickness or diarrhoea can make the contraceptive pill less effective, and so can some medicines, including anti-malaria drugs. Don't let this lead to an unintended pregnancy from a holiday romance– use a condom to help protect against both pregnancy and STIs.

If things go wrong...

Not all sexually transmitted infections have obvious symptoms, and those that do might not don't show up for a few weeks after you've been exposed. This means you may well be back in the UK when you realise something's wrong.

If you think you're having symptoms and want to know more, try out our symptom-o-tron.

Better still, find out where you can get expert advice and get tested by typing your postcode into our service finder.

back to top

Do I need a test?

A simple test can put your mind at rest.

Do I need a test?


Guidance on accessing contraception during coronavirus pandemic.