Summer holidays are a blast. What’s not to like about a heady mix of sun-soaked fun and whirlwind romances? Whether you’re going to Europe’s hottest music festivals or jetting off to a glittering party island, it’s a fair bet that living your best life will involve a little summer lovin’.

We can get lost in the moment and forget the consequences of summer hook-ups, however. So whatever happens, think about protection – and we don’t mean sunscreen. That way, you can be confident in your sexual health and give sexually transmitted infections (STIs) a miss.

To see how Europeans approach love in the summer and what they do to prevent STIs, we surveyed 832 sexually active adults.

Read on to see what we discovered and if it’s time you got yourself tested.

Things Are Bound to Heat Up

Vacation usually means rest, relaxation, and an escape from responsibilities, so it’s no surprise that nearly 78% of Europeans admitted to having sex while on summer holiday.

On the other hand, a muddy music festival might not sound like the ideal place to get it on, but it seems that dancing till dawn to your favourite bands could also spark a summer love. According to our survey, 24.8% of sexually active Europeans had sex at a music festival.

But how many of us go in for protection? Only about 40% of those who had sex on holiday used a condom every time, while 14.3% admitted to never using a condom in that situation. Music festival attendees had a slightly better record, with 50% reporting consistent condom use. Throwing caution to the wind might be your summer vibe, but is it worth risking an STI?

Not sure when to reach for a condom? Here’s a quick guide:

Always use a condom when you:

  • Have anal, oral, or vaginal sex

  • Have sex with a new partner

If you’re in a monogamous relationship and you have both been STI tested, you may decide to choose other forms of contraception that are available.

Worried you may have an STI? You’re not alone. Sexual health can be a challenging topic, and 58% of young adults said they would find it difficult to talk to their partner about it. However, all STIs are generally preventable with a little prior planning.

Finding Your Best Line of Defense

By all means, swipe right on a holiday hook-up, but it’s worth remembering that STI rates are on the rise.

In the U.K., one person is diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection every four minutes. Chlamydia is the most common STI in England, although gonorrhoea leapt by 26% in 2018.

Whatever you do, don’t let an STI go unchecked – it can have serious consequences. STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhoea are easily treatable, but if left untreated, both can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease. This condition can cause pelvic pain, problems with menstruation, and even infertility.

Despite the high stakes, over 36% of sexually active adults had never had an STI test, and 5.3% of sexually active adults didn’t do anything to prevent STIs.

And maybe not surprisingly, over 66% of sexually active adults relied on their partner’s honesty to prevent STIs but over 60% of Europeans admitted to having strayed at least once in the past, so it’s a good idea to take control of your own sexual health.

Condoms are the only safe method of protecting against STIs. They’re considered to be 98% effective. Other methods of birth control, such as the pill, may prevent pregnancy, but they can’t shield you from STIs. To protect against pregnancies and STIs, your best bet is using condoms and at least 1 other form of birth control.

Knowledge Is Sexy

By all means, have fun and make the most of summer. But if you want to feel secure in your sex life, use protection and know your STI status.

Worried you might have an STI? It’s never been easier to get tested – and its important to know about all STIs.

Most people won’t get symptoms with a lot of STIs so don’t wait for them before getting tested. Get checked if:

  • You’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner

  • Your partner has an STI

  • You or your partner have had sex with someone else without using a condom

  • You or your partner have any symptoms 

  • You’re planning to get pregnant

Worried about going to a clinic alone? Take a friend or family member for support. Or, if you want a convenient and discreet alternative to clinic or your GP, Superdrug Online Doctor delivers a range of STI home test kits to your door.

If you do find out you have an STI, don’t panic. Superdrug Online Doctor has you covered with a selection of STI medications that can be shipped to your door. So, you can have a worry-free bae-cation!


For this study, we surveyed 832 sexually active European adults. 62.5% identified as women, 36.9% as men, and 0.6% chose not to specify or were nonbinary. Ages of participants ranged from 18 to 71 with a standard deviation of 10.4 and mean of 32.1.

The participants resided in the following countries:

  • United Kingdom

  • Ukraine

  • Switzerland

  • Sweden

  • Spain

  • Serbia

  • Russia

  • Romania

  • Portugal

  • Poland

  • Norway

  • Netherlands

  • Italy

  • Iceland

  • Hungary

  • Greece

  • Germany

  • France

  • Finland

  • Czech Republic

  • Belgium

  • Austria

  • Andorra

  • Albania


Participants who had sex at festivals or on holiday may not have used condoms every time because they used other methods to prevent STIs.

This survey is based on self-reported data, and as such, may have certain limitations such as exaggeration, telescoping, and minimisation. The results are not statistically tested nor weighted and are purely exploratory.

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