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Happy seXMAS!

It's that time of year again when we are so busy thinking about a million and one things, that sometimes the one most important thing can be forgotten this party season.

No one wants to start the new year with an unintended pregnancy or needing a trip to your local sexual health clinic because you think you've contracted an Sexually Transmitted Infection. So ensure you find the time to either purchase from a shop, family planning clinic or order FREE from our website, your selection of condoms.

We know that calls and appointments to the sexual health clinics tend to be in their highest in January and more teenagers become pregnant during the months of December and January than any other months of the year.

A lot of us will let our hair down and enjoy a few drinks this festive season, and our usual rational thoughts go by the wayside. So please bare in mind the following before unwinding this winter:

- Don't expect the other person to have brought condoms, ensure you carry your own, even at times maybe when you think sex might not be on the cards, it’s better to have it and not use it, than need it and not have it!

- If this might be your first time, then make sure you plan ahead, find the right size before the special time occurs; you don't want to ruin the moment when you discover that the condom you are carrying doesn't fit and you certainly don't want to continue without it if it doesn't

- Never assume by the way someone looks or acts that they have no STI's; don’t assume that someone who looks/acts promiscuously doesn’t practice safe sex and equally don’t assume that someone you perceive as innocent is free from infections

- Don't take someone's word that they have no STI's or are on the pill, as they themselves may not even realise they have one; remember many STI's have no symptoms, or symptoms that go away making people think they are cured when in fact they aren’t. Even if someone says they were tested a month ago, some STI's like HIV can take up to 3 months to appear in a test, so respect yourself and respect them and use a condom.

- Ensure the condoms that you are carrying are in date and have the British kite mark on them and the pack still has the feel of air trapped inside, with no signs of any tears or marks on it.

- Ensure you have plenty of lube with you if the type of sex you are having requires it. Make sure it is water based as anything oil based could cause the condom to weaken and split.

- Try to know beforehand where to go to get emergency contraception. If the condom breaks or splits or you do end up having unprotected sex then you need to head to your nearest GP, GUM clinic, sexual health clinic, pharmacy, NHS walk in centre; all of these should be able to help you and if one is closed, don't give up - find the next one. If you don't know where these places are, look on the internet.

Remember if you live in Swindon you can get FREE condoms, lube & sexual health leaflets from our website. And we also offer FREE chlamydia tests by post if you are under 25yrs old. If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, or need some advice, support, please get in touch.

Finally all of the Men's Sexual Health team would like to wish you a lovely Christmas. We will be checking our emails/phones every few days if you do need to reach us during this Christmas and New Years, otherwise have fun and safe time and see you in 2014!