Sexual Health – Men Who Have Sex With Men
See our need-to-know information on sexually transmitted infections (STIs), condoms and other sexual health stuff below!
What’s the most common STI among men who have sex with men?
Gonorrhoea is the most common STI among men who have sex with men (MSM), and chlamydia is the second most common. Cases of syphilis amongst men who have sex with men have increased significantly recently across the country too.
What are common STI symptoms?
Some signs you may have an STI include:
burning when peeing
lumps, bumps or sores around anal/genital area
discharge from tip of the penis
flu-like symptoms a few weeks after unprotected sex
Some STIs have no symptoms at all though so it’s worth having regular sexual health check-ups.
How often should I be getting an STI test?
Public Health England recommends that men who have sex with men should test annually for HIV and STIs and every three months if having condomless sex with new or casual partners.
Where can I get a full STI test?
Visit Cobridge Community Health Centre for a full STI test. The sexual health clinic at Cobrudge Community Health Centre is the main sexual health clinic in Stoke-on-Trent. You may be able to get a test at another clinic if you don't have any symptoms.
What happens if I leave an STI untreated?
Untreated STIs can lead to serious health problems (including damage to your heart, brain and eyes), so it’s worth getting checked out between each sexual partner.
Can you can get STIs from oral sex?
Many STIs can be passed through oral sex, including chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis (which is very infectious through oral sex). HIV can even be passed on through oral sex, the likelihood of this is low, but it can happen. The best way to prevent getting an STI from oral sex is to use a condom.
Why should I use condoms?
Condoms are the best way to protect yourself against STIs and you can pick them up for free from our sexual health clinic, from our Men’s Group or with a C-Card. Make sure you’re putting condoms on correctly too.
What if the condom breaks or I don’t use one?
We understand that in the heat of the moment you may have unprotected sex (without a condom) or a condom you are using may split. If this happens and you’re concerned you may have contracted an STI, visit your nearest sexual health clinic.
If you are worried about HIV following unprotected sex or a condom accident please contact your nearest sexual health services (or A&E if the sexual health clinic is closed) to assess whether you need to access PEP (also known as PEPSE) – read more about PEP here.
Do I need to use condoms if I’m on PrEP?
Yes! PrEP only protects against HIV, so you’re still at risk of catching other STIs, like gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis.
What if I don’t like anal sex?
Not all men who have sex with men like or have anal sex. ‘Sex’ means different things to everyone, and can range from a bit of hand play to oral to anal. If you don’t like anal, don’t feel like you need to do it just because that’s what you think you should do. There's a whole range of other things you can do instead; spooning, mutual masturbation, hand jobs, rimming, blow jobs just to name a few!
Chemsex is basically sex or sexual activity while taking drugs (usually GHB, crystal meth and/or meph), usually with multiple people. Even though only a small percentage of men who have sex with men engage in chemsex, they’re more likely to participate in it than other groups. Chemsex can lead to mental health problems, like anxiety and depression and decreases your capacity to make sensible and safe choices (like using condoms). Read up more on chemsex on the chemsex section of our website.
Where can I get chemsex support?
If you want support on issues relating to chemsex we can offer support and advice. Call our 0300 7900 165 and choose to speak to a Health Advisor or visit Cobridge Community Health Centre.