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 for men who have sex with men (MSM) below!

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Can you get an STI from oral sex?

STIs can be passed on through oral sex too. Syphilis is easily passed on through oral sex, but gonorrhoea and chlamydia can also be spread this way. The risk of HIV is lower through oral sex, but it's still possible. For blow jobs, condoms are your best defense against STIs. For rimming, use dams to keep you and your partner safe. Flavoured condoms and dams are available to make sex more fun. Keep an eye out for special flavoured condom packs at our Men's Group or local venues!

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Do I need to use condoms if I'm on PrEP?

You still need to use condoms if you're taking PrEP, it only protects against HIV, so you’re still at risk of catching other STIs. 

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What is chemsex and where can I get support?

The term ‘chemsex’ means the use of a combination of drugs (“chems”) before or during sex. Generally, this is done at chemsex parties or ‘chill outs’ and multiple people will attend to get high and have sex. These sessions can last for days and can be dangerous to your health. Read more about chemsex on the chemsex section of our website and get sexual health support at Cobridge Community Health Centre.

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How often should I be getting an STI test?

Public Health England recommends that men who have sex with men should have a full sexual health check-up once a year. If someone is having sex with different partners, it's advised  they get a check-up every three months.

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What happens if I leave an STI untreated?

Untreated STIs can lead to serious health problems, including damage to your heart, brain and eyes. It’s worth getting checked out regularly, see how often above. 

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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. Read more about condoms, including how to put them on correctly, on our blog.

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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 if a condom breaks, you may need to get PEP (see PEP information above).

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What if I don't like anal sex?

Not all men who have sex with men enjoy anal sex. ‘Sex’ means different things to everyone, and you should only do what you enjoy and feel comfortable with. 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!

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What is PEP and where can I get it?

PEP stands for post-exposure prophylaxis and is a treatment that can stop a HIV infection after the virus has entered a person’s body. It needs to be accessed within 72 hours and is for emergency use only. You’ll need to speak to a sexual health clinic or A&E to find out if you need to take PEP.

 

Read more about PEP on tht.org.uk.

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What’s the most common STI among MSM?

Gonorrhoea is the most common STI among men who have sex with men (MSM), followed by chlamydia. There has also been a rise in cases of syphilis, across the country too. For more information on STIs, visit openclinic.org.uk.

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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

Remember: some STIs have no symptoms, so it’s worth getting a regular sexual health check-up.

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Where can I get a full STI test?

The sexual health clinic at Cobridge Community Health Centre is the main sexual health clinic in Stoke-on-Trent. You may be able to get a test at another clinic or order a free STI test online if you don't have any symptoms.

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Lube is important for good sex!

Lube not only makes sex more enjoyable, but it also reduces the risk of a condom breaking.

 

Avoid oil-based lube as this can erode condoms and make them break. Silicone-based lube is good for anal sex as it lasts quite a while, but it shouldn’t be used with sex toys which have silicone in them as this can damage the toy. Water-based lube is good to use with condoms and sex toys so it’s a great all-rounder! You can get this from our groups, C-Card packs and sexual health clinics.

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Don't forget about consent!

It can be exciting try different things with regards to sex, but one thing should never change and that is consent. 


Consent must be given for each sexual act by everyone involved. You shouldn’t feel pressured to do something you’re not comfortable with because someone assumes that’s what you should be into because of your sexuality or gender identity.

LGBT Stoke is a service provided by the Sexual Health Prevention Team from Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust