Latest results from UK sex survey

British adults who find new sexual partners when travelling outside the UK are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviours such as unprotected sex, taking illegal drugs and drinking a lot of alcohol, according to the latest National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3).

Feet covered in sand

Credit: Michael Wheeler

The Wellcome-funded research surveyed more than 15,000 British adults aged 16 to 74 between 2010 and 2012. It found:

  • one in 10 men and one in 20 women said they had sex with a new partner while travelling during 2010-12
  • nearly three-quarters of the men and over half the women said they had sex with at least one new partner from outside the UK.

Reporting a new sexual partner while travelling was associated with a range of behaviours, including a higher number of sexual partners, as well as drug use and alcohol consumption.

Both men and women who had sex with new partners while travelling were also more likely to say they had visited a sexual health clinic, been tested for HIV, or had been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection within the past five years.

The results suggest that advice on sexual health should be provided routinely to travellers, regardless of age, destination or reason for travel.

The Natsal-3 findings are published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Read more about the research in the BMJ press release.