Safe sex at festivals
A good festival is a field of dreams, packed with potential pulling partners. But like everything in life, copping off while camping has both its good and bad points.
On the good side:
- The odds of pulling are pretty high. You're among a community of hedonists who may be up for anything (and maybe anyone, even you).
- Away from home, it's easy to be whoever you want. Who cares if your mates have seen you weeping over your lack of action back home? Inside the festival walls you can be the world's greatest seducer and nobody's will know any better.
- Sex for its own sake can be fun - providing you're playing safely (pack condoms) and you both know what you're getting into beforehand.
- Doing it under canvas (or the stars) definitely makes a change from doing it in your bedroom. It's unlikely your mum will walk in either.
- There are no sheets to clean up afterwards.
- It beats waiting for the beer tent to open.
On the bad side:
- If you're going to get down and dirty recognise you may have to go without a shower for the rest of the festival. Nice.
- Jumping on the bones of complete strangers carries significant risks - you don't know their sexual history or how they'll relate to you afterwards. So be sensible about contraception, never have sex without a condom and be open about your intentions before you hit the sack.
- Shagging in a tent with a torch on turns you into an erotic shadow puppet - people can see your silhouette and you could end up with an audience (although some may consider this a plus - particularly the audience).
- Doing it in your sleeping bag can make things more intimate, but are you ready to clamber back in afterwards? That cold, sticky stuff midway down... it isn't mud.
Condoms at festivals
If there's even the slightest chance you'll be getting it on with a new partner, take some condoms and save yourself time, stress, and money. And ladies - having condoms in your purse doesn't mean you're a slut, it means you care about your health. Even if you don't get lucky yourself you can be the kind person who lends a few to a grateful friend.
Condoms are the best way to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you buy them before you go, then they're already in your rucksack, which makes throwing caution to the wind a bit less likely. Store away from heat and direct sunlight to avoid damage. Anything oil-based can weaken them too, so don't be tempted to use Vaseline, body lotion, or moisturiser as a lubricant.
If you need condoms while you're at the festival, they'll be readily available from site stores. Most festivals also have people giving them out for free. If possible only use ones with the British Standard's kite mark or a European safety logo on the packet.
Women on the pill should remember to take enough tablets with them to last the festival. There's nothing like a festival to throw your routine off-kilter, so if you're on the progestogen-only pill make sure you set your mobile to remind you take it at the right time every day. If you get sickness or diarrhoea, not so unlikely with festival food and all that warm cider, use condoms for the next few days as the pill may not work.
If you do have unprotected sex it's important to think about emergency contraception. The morning-after pill is effective at preventing pregnancy for up to 72 hours after you had sex, but the sooner it's taken the better.
Don't cross your fingers and hope for the best. Go to the medical tent and ask for some advice about what's available. You may be able to temporarily register with a nearby GP who can give you a prescription, or go to the closest casualty department.
Image by volunteer photographer Sarah Bennet
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