Jingle Bells Jingle Bells Jingle all the wayyy..!

The season is finally here, alcohol, smiles, gifts and trips all wrapped in one for a season that can last from the time the calendar flips to December on into the new year. Whether it’s at home with family and friends or at work with colleagues, the alcohol is flowing, the hugs are sharing, and the joy is overflowing. When emotions are this high on the positive end, we often forget how much fun we’re having. Maybe you never thought Margareth from the accounting department had such a nice smile, or when did Harry the ole’ lowly intern become such a hunk?? Wait! wait! Wait! Not one to mix work and pleasure? Hope not! But being prepared for dealing with what may arise from a bit too much alcohol and potentially some wild sexual encounters is part of being prepared for the festivities associated with the season.

The negative effects of the morning-after may only hit home when it’s too late, and this is what we’d all like to avoid. Taking certain basic precautions in advance and following some basic tips is almost guaranteed to get you through the holiday season full of fun and presents – presents that don’t get you stock at the doctor’s office come January.

How to be Protected

Whether its having easily available emergency contraception on hand, or having the information to deal with the unexpected in the aftermath of some joyous partying, you should know that the information isn’t hard to find. Data provided by the NHS notes that chlamydia  in particular is one of the most common STIs around.1 Couple this with the fact that additional research confirms that chlamydia rates as well as those of other STIs and STDs rise during holiday seasons makes it even more important to be protected. Whether it’s the uni party-outing to Ibiza or the Christmas season’s New Year celebrations, numbers are likely to spike.

If you’re out partying and your evening usually doesn’t end with you going home alone then you should consider taking the necessary steps to protect yourself and your potential partner. Condoms and contraception aren’t hard to get your hands on.

It’s important to note that condoms ought to be just one line of defence. If you’re not a fan of the ‘feeling’ when wearing a condom or consider it a hassle that you have no time for, consider this: in the full calendar year of 2017, some half a million Britons were diagnosed with STIs, approximately one third (⅓) of those diagnoses were for chlamydia.

Consider the following to be a consistent part of your Christmas party starter kit:

  • Condoms
  • Over the counter emergency contraception

**Note** You don’t have to be walking around with all of these in your purse or on your person. You don’t want anyone thinking you’re a portable pharmacy :). The condoms are an easy carry though.

In addition to the above mentioned pointers, there are other ways of protecting yourself from STIs & STDs:

  • Know your sexual partners’ history and limit the amount as best as possible – The more prudent one is in selecting partners and the more informed you are of your partner’s sexual history the greater the likelihood of making better choices.
  • Avoid risky sexual practices – Bodily fluids carry STIs, even small cuts which may not even bleed can transfer germs and infections.
  • Get immunized – There are vaccinations available which help prevent hepatitis B and some types of HPV.

Regardless of your initial intentions, whether it’s just: “to have fun with your girls” or “grab a beer with the boys” it doesn’t matter, have your starter pack ready! Think to yourself, how many times have one of your friends come back from a night out and repeat: “I don’t even remember what happened??”…Puff! We then go from Christmas bells and red hats to wedding bells and wedding gowns, and you’re standing there as the best man to Harry’s wedding, or even worse, and less fun, you’re at the doctor’s office being swabbed on your nether parts for tests…lucky you :(.  

Party like a young rock star…safe!

Without trying to be a numpty, getting through the Christmas season without ‘catching’ anything isn’t that hard. Taking the necessary precautions and using the numerous tips noted above is without question and easy path to collecting presents and getting lucky without getting an unwanted Christmas present in the form of a doctor’s visit.

If you’re under the age of 25 then most likely any holiday season is a time to get wasted and ‘get laid’ – male or female. You’re young, and horny, and to quote Marvin Gaye you’re always looking for sexual healing. In this case sexual healing may simply not apply. The most recent and up to date research by the NHS indicates that the highest rates of diagnosis across all STIs can be found within the age group of 16 to 24.2 The data shows that the younger you are, the more susceptible you are of contracting an STI. Whether its due to a lack of information, or poor decision making is up for debate, however, Dr Gwenda Hughes, Consultant Scientist and the Head of Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Section at PHE (Public Health England), notes the solution: “Consistent and correct condom use with new and casual partners is the best defence against STIs, and if you are at risk, regular check-ups are essential to enable early diagnosis and treatment.” So, partying like a young rock star is still possible… and safe!

Quick Response is always the best

In the event that you bypass most or even all of the advice given above and find yourself experiencing symptoms that may have you worried, then move as urgently as possible to see a doctor or a health-care professional. A professional healthcare practitioner will be honest and forthright. You ought not to fear being embarrassed, this is their trained specialty and you’re more than likely not their first patient – in most cases they’ve seen worse. In addition, healthcare practitioners are bound by law and ethics to ensure patient-doctor confidentiality. So you’re safe! Just make sure to get medical consultation and attention urgently.

Ensuring that you see a healthcare professional urgently is possibly the most important aspect of making sure you treat with a potential contraction of an STI or STD successfully. If you believe you’ve been exposed to an STI or STD then you’re at risk. Sexual penetration without a condom, and oral sex are the primary ways of contracting an STI or STD. However there are other ways of contraction.

Ways of contracting an STI or STD include:

  • Sexual intercourse (penetration)
  • Anal Sex
  • Oral Sex
  • Contact with bodily fluids

Have yourself, a healthy little Christmas…!

To add a little twist to the Ralph Blane tune: “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas…” (Or was it Sam Smith who wrote it??), consider a new balad for the Christmas season: “have yourself a healthy little Christmas!” Christmas is a time where joy ought to consume the entire season, it should set the tone for the new year and linger on into those earlier months until that summer vibe begins. Ensuring good health throughout Christmas and beyond ought to be a priority of yours. There is little to enjoy without good health. Keeping track of your sexual health, making sure that you take the necessary precaution if you’re sexually active and noting the advice given earlier would do well to keeping you healthy.

Putting those double servings of pork chops, alcohol and candy aside (which you may have to offset with a health plan specific to your own needs), sexual health is a necessary component to living a whole and fulfilling life in which the length and quality of your life isn’t compromised. When it pertains to sexual health, it can be put into one word: Choices. From selecting sexual partners, to the use of protection, one’s sexual health revolves more around the independent choices of an individual as opposed to a health procedure that can be performed by a health-care professional.

The most at risk segment of the overall population in the UK, as noted earlier, are those under 25. If you’re a parent take the time to engage in sex education with your son or daughter, regardless of the discomfort it’s a way of nipping in the bud the immature fascination with sex by the young. Ensuring that those under 25 are aware of how to properly use a condom, are confident enough to get tested and treated if necessary is the first major step to improving the overall sexual health of the population.

So even though Christmas is about joy and cheer, let’s keep it joyful but still safe and healthy!

  1. Chlamydia – NHS
  2. Chlamydia statistics for 2017 – Gov UK

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