This party season, don’t find yourself with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or an unintended pregnancy. Make sure you’re prepared, with enough of your contraception method to last the holidays, and knowing where to get help if you need it.
Our five safer sex tips for the festive season will help prevent an accident from becoming a crisis.
1. Stock up on your contraception
If you use a method of contraception that you need to take every day, such as the pill, make sure you have enough to last over Christmas, especially if you’re going away.
It’s always OK to say no if you don’t want to have sex with someone. Nobody has the right to make you go further than you want to.
The classic mistake is to go away and forget to take your contraception with you, or to run out of pills on Christmas Eve. To avoid this, check when your pill pack is going to run out. If it will run out while you’re away, get a new one before you go, and if you’re using the contraceptive injection, make sure it’s up to date. Whatever contraception you use, make sure you’re organised and have enough to last.
To avoid forgetting your contraception if you go away:
- put it on your list of things to pack
- leave a note for yourself by the front door
- set a reminder on your phone
- write it in your diary
- ask your partner or a friend to remind you.
If you don’t have a regular method of contraception, consider organizing one before the holidays. Find out about the different methods of contraception.
2. Stock up on condoms
Keep some condoms with you. They’re the only form of contraception that protects against both pregnancy and STIs. Condoms are useful to have in case you have sex with someone new, or if your regular method of contraception fails or runs out.
Vomiting can reduce the effectiveness of the pill. If you’re sick, you may need to use condoms to make sure you’re protected against pregnancy. The advice varies for different pills, so check the information leaflet in your pill packet, talk to your doctor or nurse.
You can get free condoms from community contraceptive clinics, sexual health or a Bahamas Red Cross Peer Educator in your community.
Additionally, free condoms are available at the Bahamas Urban Youth Development Centre on Farrington Road, the Bahamas AIDS Foundation on Delancy Street (Street just north of Meeting Street), the National HIV Centre in Royal Victoria Gardens or at most Communty Clinics on the Family Islands. You can buy condoms from pharmacies and supermarkets. Make sure any condoms you use have the CE mark on them. This means they meet European safety standards.
3. Know where to get emergency contraception
Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy if you have had unprotected sex or your regular contraception has failed. The ‘morning after pill’ is for use in an emergency. Don’t rely on it as a regular method of contraception. It doesn’t work as well as regular methods of contraception at stopping unintended pregnancies.
If your contraception fails or you have unprotected sex over Christmas and the local clinics and pharmacies are closed, knowing where to get the emergency hormonal pill or IUD could make all the difference.
Where can I get emergency contraception?
You can get emergency contraception (the IUD and emergency pill) free of charge from community contraceptive clinics, sexual health clinics and some GP surgeries. You can also get the emergency pill from some:
- National HIV Centre (Royal Victoria Gardens)
- Bahamas Red Cross (John F. Kennedy Drive – Nassau, Spanish Wells Community Clinic Harbour Island Community Clinic – Eleuthera)
4. Know how to find a clinic
To find a clinic:
- Search in the Government section of the white pages in the phone book
- Contact the HIV Centre in Royal Victoria Gardens
- Contact the Bahamas Family Planning Centre
- call the watusayin.com Call Centre for assistance at 427-1104 – 6.
Some clinics may be closed during Christmas. Call your local clinic to find out their Christmas opening hours.
5. Don’t panic
Help is available if your contraception fails or you have unprotected sex over the holidays. Even if your nearest clinic is closed, you can go to the National HIV Centre or the accident and emergency department at the Princess Margaret Hospital. Some of these can provide emergency contraception and can offer advice and testing if you’re worried about STIs.