Sexual Health is a huge issue for Gay and Bisexual Men (sometimes called MSM or Men who have Sex with Men). Sexual Health is important to any and all individuals. Looking after your sexual health is just as important as looking after your own mental or physical health. This section explores key questions many MSM ask about their sexual health. It also contains an agony aunt section. Should you have any queries and don’t wish to have them answered over the phone message them to us here.
Three steps to Sexual Health
There are three key steps to being sexually healthy. These are:
- Knowing the signs and symptoms of STIs are half the battle. When you are in the throws of a passionate romp it is important to have a look – do you see any lumps, bumps, sores, fluids or general symptoms that seem odd or not right?
- A good knowledge of STIs are key. Check out our STD Fact Checker.
- All sexually active people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should have a Sexual Health Check on an annual basis. If you have symptoms of an STI then get checked out straight away. If you are changing partners on a very regular basis then you should be testing once every 3 months. Many MSM have sex with multiple partners at once or in a short space of time (say less than a month). If you fall into this category then you should be testing on a regular basis. To find out where you can test check out our Booking a Test page.
- Couples entering into a long term relationship and are thinking about stopping using condoms should get tested before doing so. While the official message is that condoms and lube should be used all the time with couples – if you are entering into a long term relationship or a relationship that is lasting more than 3 months and you want to discuss stopping you should book a sexual health test before doing so. This is so that, should you stay a monogamous couple, you know that neither of you are bringing in an infection from a previous relationship.
- Using a condom and water or silicon based lubricant is the best way to prevent a STI occurring in a same sex couple. Condoms and lube should be the staple of the sexually active male’s diet.
- Condoms will prevent against most infections (bar warts, herpes, scabies and lice which call all be transmitted via skin to skin as well) whilst lube will make it easier to undertake penetrative sex.
- Not using lube and having anal sex can cause tearing, lesions or bleeding to both you and your partner and does not make a pleasant sexual encounter.
- Spit or Oil Based lubricants are not a substitute for water or silicone based lube. Oil Based lubricants will seriously degrade any condom and sex toy and cause them to become irreparably damaged and may increase the likelihood of an infection happening. Whilst saliva or spit might feel or look attractive it does not provide the necessary lubrication for anal sex.
- The Rainbow Project provides condoms and lube to all of the major gay bars and clubs and nights in Northern Ireland. They are also situated in Belfast and Foyle LGBT Centres. Additionally you can request they be sent directly to your address in a plain addressed envelope free of charge. To find out more check out our Request a Free Safer Sex Pack page.