Do you take pride in your sexual health? Sexually active gay men should make time to get a regular check up
Do you take Pride in every aspect of your health?
Although you may count calories, cut back the carbs and pump iron at the gym, there’s a lot more to staying healthy than achieving a flat tummy or bulging biceps.
What about your sexual health?
If you are a gay or bisexual man, you will hopefully be familiar with the importance of safer sex practices.
Using condoms for anal sex, knowing your HIV status, and being aware of PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) are among the armory of measures that you can take to protect your health and the health of your sexual partners. In some countries, PrEP treatment can also be taken to prevent HIV infection.
Sexual health doesn’t just relate to HIV
Of course, sexual health doesn’t just relate to HIV. Getting a regular sexual health check-up is recommended for all men who regularly have sex with other men.
But although we are told this, how many of us actually do anything about it unless something appears to go wrong?
If symptoms – such as a discharge or rash – appear, most of us will immediately be on the phone to a clinic for an appointment. But when was the last time you went for a check-up when nothing appeared to be amiss?
If you are a sexually-active gay man, it is recommended you have a full sexual health check-up every six months to test for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and HIV.
If you have multiple partners, or frequently visit sex clubs, sex parties or saunas, you might want to consider a regular check-up every three months – even if you appear to have no symptoms.
You can have a sexual health infection without realizing it: chlamydia and gonorrhea can often be present with no obvious symptoms – particularly if you the infection is in your throat or anus.
A syphilis infection can often go unnoticed. Even the symptoms of genital herpes, in some people, can be mild.
If left untreated, not only do you risk passing the infection on to other people you have sex with, but these infections can go on to cause you more serious health concerns.
‘Men who have sex with men are disproportionately affected by STIs’
This is becoming increasingly important. Earlier this month, Public Health England released statistics showing that in 2015 there were 54,275 record incidences of sexually transmitted infections among gay and bisexual men – a 10% increase since 2014.
Of these, the most common diagnoses (46%) were chlamydia (200,288 cases), followed by genital warts (68,310 cases). There was also an increase in the incidence of gonorrhea and syphilis.
Responding to the statistics, Dry Michael Brady of the Terrence Higgins Trust said, ‘Men who have sex with men are disproportionately affected by STIs accounting for 79% of all syphilis diagnoses, and 55% of all cases of gonorrhea – both of which have risen sharply.
‘This is increasingly worrying as we are starting to see a strain of gonorrhea which is resistant to one of the two antibiotics used to treat the infection.’
Although visiting a clinic can take time out of your day, taking pride in your sexual health – as well as other aspects of your well-being – will ensure that any problems are caught early. Catching infections early allows treatment to minimize the chances of long-term damage and reduces the likelihood of you passing it on to anyone else.
Visiting a clinic also gives you the opportunity to ask a health professional question or talk about concerns.
‘Sexual health is so important and the old adage truly applies; better to be safe than sorry!’
If you’ve not been to a clinic in a while, don’t wait until something goes wrong to book an appointment. You’re not wasting the clinic’s time and you’re not being a hypochondriac by attending on a regular basis.
Care UK is an independent provider of healthcare, which works closely with local authorities and NHS Trusts. It operates the Brighton Station Health Centre, which provides a full sexual health services and is open from 8am till 8pm every day, including bank holidays.
‘Visiting a sexual clinic can often seem daunting, but our team are very experienced and understand that you want a discreet, confidential service that will give you peace of mind,’ said Tamuka Gonah, Sexual Health Nurse Practitioner.
‘Sexual health is so important and the old adage truly applies; better to be safe than sorry! We would encourage anyone who enjoys an active sex life to make visiting our clinic a regular part of their healthcare routine.’
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