The ultimate guide to same-sex sexual health

The ultimate guide to same-sex sexual health

 
Rainbow hearts
 
 
You were most likely taught about hetrosexual sexual health at school, cringing as you pulled a condom over a suggestive fruit or vegetable. But were you taught about same-sex sexual health? Odds are, probably not. 
 
Although you probably won’t need to worry about an unexpected pregnancy, you still need to take precautions in order to stay safe and protected. If you’re in a same-sex relationship or you’re having sex or sexual contact with somebody of the same sex, you need to read this guide.
 
 

Sexual health tips for gay men

 
Men who have sex with men (MSM) are at an increased risk of encountering a sexually transmitted infection (STI), with rates of chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea on the rise, in addition to HIV at an all-time high. However, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your sexual partner from any nasty surprises.
 

Preventive measures

 
Men who have sex with men are at a higher risk of contracting HIV, an incurable yet managable disease that’s usually sexually transmitted. PrEP, otherwise known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a medication that can reduce your risk of getting HIV, and it’s 92-99% effective when taken correctly, with this effectiveness rising when used with condoms.
 

Save 17%
Durex Extra Safe - 6 Condoms
RRP
£5.99
£4.99
  • Helps prevent HIV
  • Perfect for those who are at high risk of HIV
  • 92-99% effective when taken correctly
  • Always read the patient information leaflet before use.

 

Get vaccinated

 
Staying up-to-date on your vaccinations can protect you against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and serious liver infections that can spread through sexual contact.
 
The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is available on the NHS for free up until your 25th birthday, but most people will have been offered the vaccine when they are between the ages of 12 to 13. It’s important to consider getting your HPV vaccine as developing HPV puts MSM at a higher risk of developing anal and penis cancer.
 

Contraception

 
You’re more likely to transmit and contract an STI by having unprotected, penetrative sex. That’s why you should always use a condom during penetrative and oral sex, especially if it’s with a new partner or you have multiple sexual partners.
 
 

 
 

Get tested regularly

 
A survey found that 1 in 3 gay and bisexual men had never had a HIV test, while 1 in 4 had never been tested for an STI at all. It’s important that men who have sex with men have a check-up every 6 months. This is because many STIs display no symptoms and you may not realise you’re infected until you get tested.
 
 

Sexual health tips for lesbian women

 
Although women who have sex with women are at a lower risk of contracting an STI, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Women can catch STIs like herpes, genital warts and chlamydia when exchanging bodily fluids, so it’s important to get frequently tested.
 
Sexual contact such as oral sex or using the same hand when touching yourself and your partner can put you at risk, and if two women are both menstruating, then they are at a higher risk, too.
 

Always clean and protect your sex toys

 
Sex toys can transmit STIs - women who have sex with women can contract infections like bacterial vaginosis (BV) from unclean sex toys. It’s vital that you always use a new condom for each partner or between penetration of different body openings, clean sex toys after use with soap and water and don’t share sex toys.
 

Save 12%
Lovehoney Thrill 10 Function Bullet Vibrator
Save 25%
Lovehoney Fresh Toy Cleaner - 100ml

 

Use protection

 
If you or your partner have any cuts or sores in the mouth or on the lips (such as a cold sore) you should avoid oral sex or use protection like a dental dam. A dental dam is made of very thin, soft plastic that covers the anus or the female genitals during sex. Think of it like a condom for oral sex–it simply acts as a barrier against STIs.
 
Certain infections can be transmitted by hands, fingers and vulval rubbing, so always wash your hands before and after sex.
 
 
LGBT
 
 
It doesn’t matter who you choose to have sex with as long as it’s consenting and safe. You may have to do things a little differently or take further precautions with your sexual partner, but it’s always better to be knowledgeable about the subject of same-sex sexual health before you dive in. If you need further information about same-sex sexual health, visit the NHS website.
 

Alexandra Moses - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Prescribing Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Prescribing Pharmacist on 03 May 2022
i
How we ensure accuracy in our content