Hands up who has woken up in a dorm and started climbing down the bunk, only to see 4 feet in the bed below. Or returned to their dorm about 10am only to find a sleeping bag on a top bunk making some pretty strange noises. If you haven’t, then I’m pretty sure you’ve been travelling with your eyes closed. Sex and travelling go together like toast and vegemite. The gringo trail the world over is full of hot blooded carefree people just having fun.
When I told my friend I was writing this blog, she gazed wistfully into her memories of South America and without taking a breath said, “That trip was the most successful sex I have ever had. It was literally the most sex I have ever had, and have had since.”
It’s fair to say most people are getting some while they’re away. It’s also fair to say that most people neglect their health on a fairly regular basis while away. Yes, there are some people who get up and go jogging in the morning, but I’m certainly not one of them and neither are the people I travel with or seem to attract. For me, health and exercise becomes is a distant memory, unless u call a one arm bicep curl with the weight of a mojito exercise, or indeed a run to the toilet because I broke the seal at 2pm. We drink too much, we eat too much and routines are out the window. In all honesty, these things are not going to change and nor should they. However, there is one part our health that we should maintain, and maintain vigorously. Our sexual health.
So, lets’ talk about sex Baby! We often talk about getting laid, how hot they were, whether the sand got stuck in peculiar places. I’ve heard a few awesome stories of clothes being stolen while the deed was being done on the beach and naked runs back to the hostel. We don’t, however, talk much about the risk involved in not using a condom and the ramifications for our health thereafter. It’s not only our physical health that can be affected. Our mental health can take a battering as well with anxiety of a diagnosis and limited access to STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) checks and antibiotics in foreign countries. To top it all off some places we visit are not as open to casual sex as others, making a trip to the Doctor extremely unpleasant or not at all possible.
The current stats from the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate that over 1 million people a day contract an STI. That equates to just over 357 million people a year and over 500 million people are living with genital herpes. That’s 20 times the population of Australia. Now I am certainly not the sex police, but it’s definitely worth mentioning.
So how do we minimise our risk and negotiate safer practices when all we wanna do is drink the cheap rum, dance on the hostel bar and be free of care, responsibility and rules.
Firstly, we need to acknowledge the fact that we will indeed have sex at some point, if not at a lot of points. Being surprised about the situation leads to not being prepared.
Secondly, now we know it’s inevitable, be prepared. It is on every single occasion, the responsibility of ourselves, to look after ourselves by having condoms with us, irrespective of gender. It’s not always possible when the moment presents itself to get to a store and buy them. Take them with you when you go out. If you’re worried about buying them overseas, bring them in your backpack or suitcase from home
Thirdly, and this is where it probably lets us down the most. Make it clear from the start (before u leave the club, beach etc) that u won’t be having sex without a condom. Not only does this give either party the time to scoff and walk off if they so choose, you will find out then and there if either of you has one. It saves that ‘gone too far’ moment where chances are that you will do it anyway. Once you know, and if neither of you has one, you can buy them, get one from a friend or reconvene tomorrow. It’s much easier then, than 30minutes later to make an informed decision.
It’s imperative to respect each other. Would you allow a random stranger to give you a medical exam? No, you wouldn’t, because they’re not qualified and you know nothing about them. This is exactly the same. Essentially you are putting your health in the hands of a stranger by not using a condom. Even with their best intentions, and even if they’re your instant soulmate, (it happens) they are only as good as the day of their last STI check.
Now all of this being said, there wouldn’t be 357 million people contracting an STI this year if it was that easy. So, what are the best ways we can minimise any next day issues if we didn’t use a condom?
Don’t freak out. It happens, and everyone at one time, or multiple times, or another has done it. Thanks to the world we live in, we are able to search for Doctors and STI specialists in most countries at the push of a button. If you are in a big city it will obviously be a lot easier to find one that in a small town. If you are in the middle of nowhere just get to a city when you can and in the meantime, make sure you use condoms so there isn’t a chance of passing anything on you may have contracted. Hotels and hostels are also a wealth of information and no doubt this won’t be the first time someone has asked them.
Chances are you will get an all clear and if not in most cases a simple course of antibiotics will clear anything up, just make sure you get retested after the course to make sure it’s gone. Undiagnosed or STI’s that haven’t cleared can cause serious problems later in life.
Travelling and holidays are the time of our lives. It comes jam packed with new experiences, new feelings and can change our whole outlook on life. Sex is just another part of the crazy path we travel. So be prepared, take care of each other and keep having the time of your life.
© The Universe’s Bike