Summer loving survey – holiday sexual activity – women’s attitudes, experiences and contraceptive considerations

Summer loving survey – holiday sexual activity – women’s attitudes,

experiences and contraceptive considerations

E. Ng1, C. Ramers-Verhoeven2, F.

Schortsaniti3, E. Merkle4

1Organon International, Medical Services, Roseland, NJ, USA, 2NV Organon, Oss, Netherlands, 3Harris Interactive, London,

UK, 4Private Practice, Bad Reichenhall, Germany

Background Women’s

sexual behaviour and contraceptive needs often change when they travel or go on

holiday, but there are doubts that women are adequately prepared or informed,

making them vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted

infections (STIs).

Methods The Summer Loving Survey investigated women’s

attitudes towards, and expectations of, sexual activity on holiday; their

priorities and actions taken to prevent pregnancy and STIs; problems experienced

and limitations of contraceptive methods used on holiday; and levels of

compliance. Finally, women’s opinions of what would make an ideal contraceptive

were explored. The online survey interviewed a random sample of women aged 16-40


Results A total of 5,792 women from 10 European and North American

countries completed the survey during the 2005 Summer holiday season. 84% of the

women did not usually consider their contraceptive needs before their holiday,

yet 51% reported opportunities for physical intimacy as important planning

factors for a holiday, and 47% being more sexually active on holiday. 17% have

had unprotected sex with their partners while on holiday when not planning a

pregnancy. 19% said they had had a casual, one-night sexual encounter. Of these,

15% had used no form of contraception; a further 27% did not use a barrier

method for STI protection. The majority of women in the group relied on the Pill

(44%) or condoms (28%) for holiday contraception but many are exposed to, or are

ignorant of the factors that can reduce their reliability. Fifty-two percent have missed a

pill or taken it late on holiday, yet 45% take no action to avoid pregnancy. A

high level of dissatisfaction with the practicalities of using the Pill and

condoms was uncovered, along with low utility of non-oral hormonal

contraceptives. Seventy percent of the women would prefer a once-a-month method and 64%

prefer a method that does not require intervention during holidays. In fact, 36%

would consider a change in contraception for a more carefree holiday.

Conclusions Women need more help and advice when choosing their contraception.

Healthcare providers need to identify and counsel women going on holiday, and to

offer methods of contraception for which reliability does not depend on daily

dosing or correct user intervention at the time of intercourse.

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