From my column in Body+Soul
Question: "I’m single for the first time in 10 years. I’m over the heartbreak, and now I’m ready to have some fun – specifically, some fun on holiday. I’m going with some other single friends to a resort in Bali this summer. But I’m also prone to UTIs in summer, and I’m desperate to make sure that doesn’t happen on holiday and ruin my good time. What can I do to protect myself? And what are the other golden rules for healthy holiday sex?"
Answer: Singles fun in the sun in Bali sounds like a good way to move forward now you’re over the heartbreak. It’s good that you’ve waited, as too many people try to mend a broken heart by distracting themselves with new people, but you don’t necessarily make good choices in that state. It’s much better to take the time to get over the grief, anger and other negative emotions you inevitably go through at the end of a relationship. Rebound encounters, whether relationships or flings, are rarely based on clear emotions and made with clean choices.
So, now that you’re in a good place – it’s time to meet people and have fun! Before I focus on the UTI issue, I first want to make some comments on how to have the kind of fun you’re looking it for. It has to be consensual and it has to be safe.
Safe might not sound very sexy, but it’s essential. Like any other fun on your holiday, you want to be prepared and you want it to be safe. You wouldn’t go scuba diving or kite surfing on your holiday if you weren’t sure you were going to be safe. It’s the same with sexual fun.
So, the first rule of good holiday sex is: don’t get too drunk! A little alcohol can loosen inhibitions and ease awkwardness to help you get started, but too much means you lose judgement leading to poor choices that you’re are likely to regret, and could even be mentally and physically harmful.
For you personally, another reason to limit the alcohol is that it makes you more prone to UTIs. You also need to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water, which you can forget to do when you’re drinking, increasing the risk of succumbing to an UTI.
The second golden rule is that if you’re going to have sex with a holiday lover, use a condom. Without one you’re putting yourself at risk of catching sexually transmitted diseases. You might know that intellectually, but in the moment, people can get so carried away that the condom gets overlooked. So, make sure you’re carrying condoms with you. Don’t assume that because it goes on a penis that it’s the man’s responsibility to carry condoms. You’re both having sex, so you’re both responsible for all aspects of the encounter.
Some people feel applying a condom is awkward, so make the application playful. I am a big advocate of learning to put a condom on with your mouth (it’s actually very easy) as it’s a lot more likely to go on if it’s applied that way!
Carry a small tube of lube with you too. Dab a little on the tip of the condom once it’s on the penis, and use your hands to playfully and sensually spread it over the head (he’ll enjoy that) to make for a smooth entry.
Those are the two most important things to keep in mind for sexy adventures on your holiday: minimise alcohol and use condoms. Some more advice for you particularly around preventing UTIs while you are away are.
Make sure you’re clean, not just to avoid bacteria that might be hanging around your anal area and that can get transferred to your vagina during sexual activity, but also to remove chemicals that could be irritating. When you’re on holidays you might have sunscreen or insect repellent on your skin, so make sure that’s washed off.
Avoid g-string type underpants and bikini bottoms as they can irritate your vulva more so than knickers and bikinis with a wider crotch and bottom.
Make sure you pee before and after sex.
And as romantic as it looks in the movies, sex on the beach is never good – the sand gets into all the wrong places!