The holiday season is an exciting and enjoyable time for most people, the chance to reconnect with loved ones, and disengage from the stresses of the outside world for a bit. However, there is another side of the holidays that is far less known: indeed, the holiday season the time of year where interest in sex rises the most, based on search terms around this time.
Along with this, other services show that the height in sexual activity, along with lack of access to some resources, means that unprotected sex tends to happen more frequently during the holidays. With this, here are some essential tips to keep in mind to ensure a safe holiday season.
Alcohol consumption, in general, hits its peak during the section between Thanksgiving and the New Year. This is partially due to the added amount of social activities, so even people who don’t drink often may be inclined to drink a little more. Studies have also shown that many Americans binge drink during this time, simply because they have an inflated sense of how much they can tolerate.
Combine this atmosphere with the fact there are several times of the year where people have time off from work, so the likelihood of many people drinking more than they should is high.
This compounds the heightened sexual atmosphere around the holidays in many settings. Some people may be traveling and interested in hooking up, others may be reconnecting with people they haven’t seen in some time. Because of this, there is a much higher risk of unsafe or unprotected sex.
Unprotected sex skyrockets the risk of STIs, so it’s important to both monitor your alcohol consumption at all times, as well as have some form of protection (condoms, etc.) if you’re in a social situation where you think there is a chance of sexual activity. This second piece is critical because you may not know where to buy protection if you’re traveling to a new area for a sexual encounter, which increases the chance of engaging in unprotected sex. Better to be safe than sorry by preparing beforehand.
Staying Safe While Staying Social
Along with monitoring your alcohol consumption, there are a few additional steps you can take on a holiday night out to make sure that you don’t do anything that you may regret later down the road. For example, before going out to an event where you know, you will be drinking, make sure that you have something to eat. This tends to slow the rate of absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, keeping people from getting drunk as fast. Avoiding drunkenness is a significant help in making smart decisions. Along with this, while drinking, make sure you stop for water now and then to keep yourself hydrated.
While it’s important to keep yourself safe, you can also extend a lot of this advice to your friends as well. If you’re going out as a group, and a friend is extremely drunk, try and discourage them from trying to hook up with anyone until they are fully sober. While you can’t always completely control someone’s actions, you can take steps to try and curb potentially harmful behavior. Also, ask them to do the same for you if you end up drinking more than initially planned.
Finally, it’s essential not to fall into the trap of thinking that someone “looks safe” in terms of a hookup. Remember, over 20 million new STIs occur every year in the U.S. Roughly half of that number are young people aged 15–24. The risk factor is even higher for gay men.
In some cases, the resulting consequences of an STI can be a little embarrassing and a trip to the doctor, while in others, it can be more tragic. Some can have an STI and not show any symptoms, so it’s crucial that you be proactive in terms of protecting yourself. This even applies if you are reconnecting with someone you haven’t seen in a while versus sexual activity with a stranger or someone you meet via a dating app. Keep yourself safe and be proactive this holiday season by getting tested.