Sex should be fun, just don't lose your health over it. See our need-to-know information on STIs, condoms and other sexual health stuff below!
1. Syphilis is on the rise nationally and locally
Cases of syphilis amongst men who have sex with men has increased significantly recently, not just in Stoke-on-Trent, but across the country too. Make sure you know what symptoms to keep an eye out for - see a full list of symptoms here.
Syphilis can lead to serious health problems if left untreated, so it’s worth getting checked out between each sexual partner. Visit Cobridge Community Health Centre for a full STI test (which includes testing for syphilis).
2. You may be putting condoms on incorrectly
You’d be surprised by how many people don’t know how to put a condom on correctly. From not squeezing the tip to putting it on the wrong way round, our sexual health team have seen it all. Make sure you’re doing everything right by watching our video below!
3. You can get STIs from oral sex
Many STIs can be passed through oral sex, including chlamydia gonorrhoea and syphilis. 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.
4. It’s not all about anal
Not all men who have sex with men have anal sex. ‘Sex’ is different for 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 feel 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!
5. Speaking of anal, it's pretty risky The risk of catching HIV from anal sex is 18 times higher than through vaginal, which is a reason why HIV rates are high in men who have sex with men. It's also worth knowing that receiving anal sex (being a bottom) puts you at higher risk of catching HIV from an infected partner. Don't forget, the best way to protect against all STIs, is by using condoms.
6. Sex doesn’t have to be like in porn
Don’t put pressure on yourself to act like what you see in porn. Porn is often an unrealistic representation of sex (the average porn penis is 2-3 inches bigger than the average non-porn penis!) so don’t feel like you have to act like or look like what you see online. Only do what you’re comfortable with and take things at your own pace.
7. Free condoms (and lube) are easily available
Always be prepared and have a good stock of condoms available. You can pick up free condoms from pharmacies across the city with a C-Card, from our Men’s Group or from any of our sexual health clinics.
8. Accidents do happen
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, call our sexual health information line on 0300 123 0970 or visit your nearest sexual health clinic.
9. Chemsex support is available
Chemsex can be easy to get into the habit of and hard to get out of. 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).
If you want support on issues relating to chemsex we can offer support and advice. Call our sexual health information line on 0300 123 0970 or visit Cobridge Community Health Centre.