Christmas parties and festivities are in full swing as are people's sex lives- but Superdrug found that only around a third of people carry a condom and a fifth believe there's a stigma to being prepared. We spoke to Dr Pixie McKenna about why this might be and why we shouldn't stereotype when it comes to sex.
Why do you think only 30% of sexually active adults carry a condom at this time of year?
Some people don't think the "opportunity" will arise, others are too embarrassed and many more believe if they "get lucky" they won't be unlucky enough to catch something!
Why is there still a stigma attached to being prepared?
It's hard to believe that in 2016 we are still shy about condom usage. We don't want to have to bring the subject up because we find it too embarrassing, but equally the majority of people would be upset or embarrassed to catch an STI. There is a misconception that condoms are passion killers, fiddly, slimy, plastic pockets that ruin the mood! Many people also feel if somebody seems nice, they surely won't have an STI. There is no stereotype when it comes to those who have sexually transmitted infections. If you have unprotected sex, you are at risk, regardless of who you are or how you do it!
Why do such a large percentage of men and women take no action after having unprotected sex, even if some partners are willing to pay for the morning after pill for their lover?
Because irrespective of age the prime concern for those who have unprotected sex is pregnancy, if it's a possibility. In the encounters where pregnancy is not a possibility e.g. oral sex the majority will naively think it's either impossible or unlikely they have caught something.
Why is safe sex particularly important at this time of year?
Alcohol and Christmas go hand in hand, leading to lots of festive frolicking. I see countless patients who have become a casualty on the Christmas party circuit. Some can't even remember whether they had sex or not! People lose their inhibitions and one thing leads to another - if you are not prepared, you might end up with a lot more than a stinking hangover!
Why are people hopeful that they will get more sex at Christmas than any other time of year?
I think "hopeful" sounds like they are a bit desperate. Everybody knows Christmas is a time for letting one's hair down and kicking back and relaxing. The Christmas party circuit is often one of dancing, drinking and decadence so it's not surprising people end up under the mistletoe!
One in five people believe that more education is needed when preparing for such occasions- how far do you agree with this and how would it be implemented?
Yes, I totally agree, however the focus should not only be around "young people". People well in to their sexual career are also often misinformed. Everyone could do with a refresher on the right and wrong ways of protecting your sexual health.
Why are people more attracted to contraception if it has a fun twist like the new condoms by Passante?
Christmas is all about fun, so the Christmas Edition condoms are an ice breaker.
What is next for you?
I have some exciting projects coming up on Channel 4 in the New Year and a couple of books in the pipeline.