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Get ready

for a hot summer

Top tips for your sexual health this summer

STIs are around and can be treated. Here’s how you can look after yourself this summer.

1. Keep it pleasurable and consensual 

The sex you choose to have should be fun, pleasurable and consensual.

It’s good to discuss your likes, dislikes and what you are happy doing with a partner/s beforehand. Sexual consent means freely agreeing to sexual activity.

Remember, you can withdraw consent at any time during sex if you want to stop. It’s ok to say no to a sexual activity you do not want to do.

If you’re unsure if someone is consenting then it’s simple: just ask!

2. Get checked

Did you know… you can have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) without showing any symptoms?

If left untreated, STIs can affect your health. If you think you have an STI, the earlier you’re tested, the sooner treatment can be given if it’s needed.

Getting checked is easy and free. You can get checked at a sexual health clinic or order a test kit online is some parts of the country.

3. Choose the right condoms

Did you know… condoms come in different sizes and thicknesses to suit different needs?

It’s easy to protect yourself and your partner/s from STIs and unplanned pregnancies by using condoms correctly and consistently.

You may be hesitant about using condoms because of how they feel, or worried how well they work. However, the condom you choose makes a big difference so take our condom quiz to find the best one for you.

Using lube with condoms makes sex safer and more pleasurable. It reduces the risk of cuts in the skin, and can also prevent condoms tearing. Only use water or silicon-based lube with condoms.

Get free condoms and lube from:

  • sexual health clinics
  • some doctor’s surgeries and community pharmacies
  • some sexual health charities

Buying condoms and lube online is cheaper and there is a greater range to choose from.

4. Know your choices to prevent HIV

In addition to condoms, you also have the option to use PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to prevent HIV. 

PrEP is where someone who is HIV negative takes medication before and after sex to protect themselves from HIV.  PrEP is highly effective at preventing HIV but it doesn’t protect against other STIs or unplanned pregnancy. PrEP is available for free on the NHS.

If you think you could have been exposed to HIV because the person you had sex with is HIV positive and is not on treatment, go to a sexual health clinic or A&E dept to talk to a doctor about PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis).

To work, PEP must be taken within 72 hours (three days), and ideally should be taken within 24 hours.

The doctor you speak with will help to decide whether PEP is going to be the correct treatment in your case.

5. Know your contraception options

Did you know… there are over 10 different types of contraception to choose from?

Choosing the contraception that works best for you depends on a number of things, including your lifestyle, age, your medical and family history, and any medicines you're taking.

Emergency contraception

In the event that you have had sex without using any contraception you can take emergency contraception up to five days after the event to prevent pregnancy. 

It can be very effective but is not as effective as regular contraception used consistently and correctly. Emergency contraception is not recommended as a replacement.

6. Under the influence?

Drugs and alcohol often increase the chances of you having unprotected sex. Additionally, they also affect people’s ability to effectively communicate and establish consent.

If you know you are likely to have sex under the influence of alcohol and drugs, be prepared by having condoms and lube. You may also want to consider taking PrEP as a form of HIV protection although PrEP won’t protect you against other STIs or an unplanned pregnancy.

Commonly Asked Questions

Experts answer your questions on HIV, STIs and sexual health.