Travel can put you at a higher risk of a variety of health issues — including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Researchers have found that of the 20 percent of travelers who engage in casual sexual activities while abroad, many of them were young, single men with a history of multiple partners.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the thrill of traveling abroad or the excitement of meeting a cute local at the hostel bar. And if you’re going to engage in casual sex during your travels, it’s important to do so safely.
However, STDs are currently on the rise, and if you do have unprotected sex abroad, you just might discover that you are one of the millions of affected people. While you should try not to panic, it’s important to address this issue sooner rather than later, for the sake of your health. Here’s what you should do if you catch an STD overseas, and a few tips to minimize the chance of this happening again:
Find a Professional
The first and most important step is to find a doctor or other medical professional and meet with them as soon as you can. This can also be a tricky feat depending on where you’re traveling, as the availability and quality of healthcare varies greatly throughout the world. If your trip is short or coming to a close, you may want to simply make an appointment with your primary doctor back home.
A physician will be able to diagnose what kind of infection you have and figure out the correct form of treatment. Follow their instructions closely; if you need to take antibiotics, finish the entire course to ensure your STD is fully treated. Finally, be sure to keep copies of all test results and prescriptions so you can share the information with your doctor at home.
Get Tested Regularly
Get tested for STDs after completing your treatment to ensure that it truly is gone. If you continue to engage in sexual activities with others, you should make a habit of getting tested regularly. Not only that, don’t forget to tell any and all partners you’ve had since the last time you were tested. It can be an uncomfortable conversation, but you do owe it to them, as they may not know that they could have an STD unless you disclose it.
Many people don’t experience any symptoms, which can make STDs difficult to identify; in fact, you may not even realize you have one. The long-term effects of untreated STDs can be severe and include risks such as infertility or developing certain cancers.
However, regular testing can help detect an STD before its symptoms become that severe. It can be tricky to figure out where and how to get tested in another country, especially if there’s a language barrier, but it’s well worth trying. You should make it a priority if you had sex with a new partner — particularly if you didn’t use protection. This may not be how you want to spend time on your trip, but you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of maintaining your sexual health.
Prepare Before You Go
It’s easier to take care of your sexual health abroad if you prepare before you head out on your adventure. In addition to making time to get tested for STDs, you should also consider visiting a travel clinic, as they can help you navigate other health concerns you may have about your destination, such as vaccinations. Like your primary doctor, be sure to follow their instructions carefully!
Getting an STD while traveling abroad can make the rest of your trip stressful and unpleasant, but it doesn’t have to ruin this unique experience for you. You can still have fun or have a fling with someone abroad. Just be sure to to always prioritize your health, even when you’re on the road.