Whether it's getting close to a handsome stranger under the mistletoe or spending more time with loved ones over the holidays, there is something about the Christmas season that makes us more likely to get amorous.
In order to keep your sexual health in check this festive season, emergency contraception brand ellaOne (ulipristal acetate) and Pharmacist, Deborah Evans have provided their top tips and advice to help prevent any unexpected surprises after the buzz of the season is over:
Plan your contraception like you plan your Christmas social diary:
- Your GP surgery may have limited opening hours during the holidays, or you may be travelling and unable to get a top up prescription so it's important to make sure your contraception is in place ahead of time.
- If you take the contraceptive pill, or use the vaginal ring, contraceptive patch or contraceptive injection it's important to check that you have sufficient cover for the duration of the Christmas period.
Deborah Evans says: "Pharmacies are often open very long hours into the evening and over the weekends so if you do ever need advice about any of your contraceptive needs then pop in and have a confidential chat."
Wrap up more than your gifts this season:
- If you think you are likely to have sex, carry condoms with you so that you always have protection to hand.
- Always use a condom when having sex with a new partner as this method is the only one that protects against STIs.
Deborah Evans says: "You may think it's awkward to have the chat about protection but you are in control of what does or doesn't happen - it's simple - no protection, no sex. It is not just a man's responsibility to have condoms readily available - you can get them for free from sexual health clinics and your GP or you can buy them from pharmacies, supermarkets and vending machines."
- Christmas is a busy time of year with lots of social commitments, a change of routine, numerous parties or family arrangements and often lots of travelling.
- If you take the contraceptive pill, set a reminder on your phone to ensure you don't forget to take it at your set time each day. If using a method such as the vaginal ring, set a reminder to take it out and reinsert it as required or for the contraceptive patch, set up a weekly reminder to change it.
- If you are unwell (particularly if you are sick or have diarrhoea), ensure you follow the correct guidance if you miss a contraceptive pill. Check your pill pack leaflet for more information or ask your pharmacist.
- Although not a regular form of contraception, the morning after pill can prevent pregnancy if you have had unprotected sex or if your regular method has let you down.
- There is more than one emergency contraceptive option available. Speak to a health care professional about the most appropriate option for you.
- The morning after pill should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex.1
- The IUD (also known as the coil) is an alternative method of emergency contraception that is inserted into the uterus up to five days after unprotected sex. The IUD also provides an ongoing contraceptive solution.
Deborah Evans says: "While it is important to plan ahead for your regular contraceptive needs and make sure you have a contraceptive solution in place, you can also buy the morning after pill in advance from the pharmacy. This may be helpful if you use condoms as your contraceptive method of choice and are planning to be out of the country or in an area where access to emergency contraception is not as timely or convenient. Do remember that the emergency contraceptive pill is not a regular method of contraception, so do chat to someone about what would suit you in the longer term."
For more information please visit www.ellaone.co.uk
Deborah Evans does not endorse any brands or medicines.