There are some specific health issues and risks, both mental and physical, that can affect gay men. Put your sexual health first with these top tips.
For men who have sex with other men, prevention against sexually transmitted infections is paramount, especially as figures show a 10% increase in STIs from 2014 to 2015.
Protect yourself in the first instance by always using a condom, during both penetrative and oral sex. Stick to water-based lubricants and steer clear of lotions, oils and petroleum jelly, which can damage condoms.
Stay with the same non-infected partner and try to avoid substances and situations that are likely to result in risky sexual behaviour. If drugs are taken, make sure not to share needles.
Although preventative medications will not cover all infections, they are worth considering, especially when it comes hepatitis A and B vaccinations. For HPV, men under 26 years of age can receive a vaccination. For HIV prevention, there is a treatment called PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) in the form of a daily pill which your doctor should be able to assess your suitability for.
For more advice and to locate your nearest walk-in clinic as well as order home STI kits, check out www.greenwichsexualhealth.org.
Look After Your Mental Health
Negative body image and mental health issues, including eating disorders, anxiety and depression, are thought to affect more gay men in comparison to heterosexual men. Don’t suffer in silence. Speak to your GP, a charity or a mental health professional. If you’re not ready to do this straight away, confide in someone you trust – a friend or loved one. If you are dealing with substance abuse, including drugs or alcohol, consider not only your GP but local community addiction support groups and LGBT groups.
Don’t Miss Your Check-ups
Make your health and routine check-ups, including regular STI checks, a priority. Worry over discrimination should not prevent you from adequate healthcare, so find a doctor you are comfortable with.
Speaking Out Against Domestic Violence
Abusive relationships, where abuse is mental and/or physical, can affect any type of relationship and can hugely impact mental health. While many may fear reproach and discrimination, there is compassion and support available. Taking the step to speak out as soon as possible to get the help you deserve is very important.