In this section you will find information about leading a healthy sex life as well as the most common sexually transmitted infections (STI) that gay men may catch/be exposed to.
Anyone who has sex can be infected with STI and can be passed on during any intimate physical contact as well as full sexual intercourse, including sexual foreplay and anal and oral sex.
Most sexually transmitted infections can be prevented by using condoms and also be treated easily without any long-term effects. Left untreated some infections could go on to cause long-term damage. That’s why its important to always have safe sex.
Condoms used with water based lube is still the surest way to protect you or your partner against HIV and other STI’s.
There is a wide variety of condoms available, they come in different shapes, sizes and thickness, which come with or without lubricant of various types. Everyone’s cock is different so it’s good to try different kinds of condom to determine which is best for you. However, it’s best to avoid condoms that have nonoxynol 9 (N9), commonly stated as spermicidal lubricant as they can irritate the lining of the arse. Most condom manufacturers in the UK have stopped using N9 but it’s easy to buy them online or when you are abroad so it’s worth checking, or taking your from the UK if you are travelling. You can get free condoms from your local sexual health clinic.
How to use a Condom
- Wait until the penis gets hard. Take the condom out of the wrapper carefully, don’t use your teeth.
- Unroll the condom a bit to check that it’s the right way round before putting it on. Squeeze the tip of the condom to get rid of any air and place it over the tip of the hard penis.
- Roll the condom all the way down to the base of the penis.
- Check during sex that the condom hasn’t slipped off.
- If you are at it for a while, you may need to replace the condom every half an hour.
- After sex, take the penis out carefully while its still hard. Hold the condom at the base to stop it slipping off.
- Wrap the condom in a tissue and put it in a bin and not down the toilet.
- Keep your condom in a cool, dark place. Heat can damage them.
- Condoms don’t last forever. Check the use-by-date.
- Keep your condoms handy if there is a chance you are going to have sex.
- Never use a condom from an opened wrapper or a condom more than once.
- Always use plenty of water based lubricant during sex. This makes the sex not only comfortable but prevents the condom from splitting.
- Two condoms are not better than one, because the friction between the two makes it susceptible to slitting. Only ever wear one at a time.
- Wash your hands after handling a used condom.
SEXUAL TRANSMITED INFECTIONS
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV infects and gradually destroys an infected person’s immune system, reducing their protection against infection and cancers.
Initially, someone living with HIV may show no symptoms of HIV infection as their immune system manages to control it. However, in most cases their immune system will need help from anti-HIV drugs to keep the HIV infection under control. These drugs do not completely rid the body of HIV infection.
Every 70 minutes, somebody in the UK is diagnosed with HIV. And almost a third of people living with HIV in the UK today don’t know they have it; that’s around 25,000 people. Statistics which should make you stand up and take notice! Don’t be a statistic.
Gay men are the group most affected by HIV in the UK. However, since 2003 more of the people newly diagnosed with HIV in the UK became infected through heterosexual sex than gay sex.
Research suggests that people who don’t know they have HIV are more likely to pass the virus on than those who have been tested. Being diagnosed late also carries severe health risks for the individual – around a quarter of all HIV-related deaths in the UK last year could have been avoided if those people had been diagnosed and started on medication earlier.
AIDS is short for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is not a single disease or condition. Instead, it is a term that describes the point when a person’s immune system can no longer cope because of the damage caused by HIV and they start to get one or more specific illnesses.
People do not actually die from AIDS; they die from the cancers, pneumonia or other conditions that may take hold when their immune system has been weakened by HIV.
HIV is not passed on easily from one person to another, especially compared to other viruses. That’s because the HIV virus is present in body fluids. So for HIV to be passed on, the body fluids of someone who is already infected have to get into an uninfected person’s body and then into their bloodstream.
This not only includes cum but also the pre-cum, which is the fluid the penis produces before ejaculation.
You can’t get infected with HIV through normal social contact or through many other actions thought by some people to be risky. Such as:
- sharing cups, plates, cutlery or linen, such as towels
- using the same toilets and swimming pools.
- Other body fluids, like saliva, sweat or urine, do not contain enough of the HIV virus to infect another person.
HIV affects the ability of your body’s immune system to fight off infection. If the HIV is left untreated, it will destroy a type of white blood cell called CD4 T-cells, which play an important role in your immune system.
The lower your CD4 count is, the more likely you are to show signs of illness. These symptoms can all be caused by conditions other than HIV, and do not mean you have AIDS. However, if you experience all or some of these symptoms persistently, it might be a good idea to get an HIV test.
- unintentional weight loss
- chronic diarrhea
- skin rashes, especially on your face, genitals or anus
- an increase in herpes ulcers or thrush infections in your mouth and genitals
- sweats, especially at night
- unusual tiredness
- nausea or loss of appetite
- swollen lymph glands in the neck, groin or armpits
“THERE IS NO CURE for HIV”
Getting infected with HIV doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to die either tomorrow, next year or ten years from now. There are combination drugs which an HIV positive person can start taking years after the infection. Different drugs stop HIV reproducing in different ways and a combination of three or more are needed to be effective. The aim of treatment is to reduce the quantity of the virus to as minimal as possible, although it won’t completely disappear.
The start of treatment will depend on the amount of virus in your blood and how it’s affecting your immune system. The current drugs are very effective and so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a full and long life.
However, if you had unprotected sex within the last 72 hours (3 days) and think that you may have been exposed to HIV, there is a drug called PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) which may prevent HIV infection after the virus has entered the body, the treatment is taken for 4 weeks after the exposure. PEP can be available from sexual health clinics and hospital accident and emergency departments.
PEP is not a cure for HIV and is not guaranteed to prevent HIV from taking hold once the virus has entered the body. Safe sex still remains the most efficient way of staying safe from HIV.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection most commonly passed on by fucking without a condom, but it can also be passed by sucking cock or rimming. One to six weeks after being infected, it can cause a yellowy white discharge from your cock or, more rarely, from your arse, or throat – the three most common places to catch it. You may also have pain when pissing and an urge to piss more frequently than usual. However, many infected guys don’t show any symptoms at all, but are still infectious, so they can pass it on to loads of other sexual partners without knowing it.
Chlamydia is treatable and curable with antibiotics. If left untreated, the infection can spread from the cock to the prostate gland, balls, and other parts of the body and can cause other health problems.
Crabs, or pubic lice, are tiny brown bloodsucking insects, so called because of their crablike claws, which allow them to hold onto pubic hair. Crabs cling to your skin and suck blood, causing intense itching. They are normally found in hair around the cock, balls and arse although they can be found in armpits or elsewhere on hairy guys. Crabs are usually transferred during naked body contact. Less often, they can be caught from infested bedding, clothes, and towels. Lotions such as Derbac or Quellada are available from chemists, without prescription, for getting rid of crabs, and these are also available free of charge from sexual health clinics.
Gonorrhoea, or ‘the clap’, is a bacterial infection of the urethra (pisshole), arse, throat, or eyes. It can be passed-on by rimming, sucking cock, fucking or getting fucked without a condom. Noticeable symptoms can include a white or greenish pus discharge from your cock and a burning sensation when you piss or cum. Infection in your arse may be noticeable by a yellowish discharge, fresh blood on your shit, mild diarrhoea, or itching and pain when shitting. Infection via your mouth can result in a sore throat and sometimes a cough.
Gonorrhoea is treatable by antibiotics and is completely curable. Left untreated the body’s natural defences would normally be able to clear gonorrhoea from the system, although this would take several months (during which time the infection could be spread to other sexual partners) and be painful. In some cases, untreated gonorrhoea can spread to the prostate gland and balls, which may lead to infertility.
Hepatitis is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver. There are three main types: A, B, and C. They all have similar symptoms but are caught in different ways and have different consequences for your long-term health. Hepatitis A and B are preventable by vaccination given by a short course of injections, which give you protection over several years. There are no vaccines available against hepatitis C. Gay men can get the Hep A and B vaccination free of charge at any sexual health clinic.
Hepatitis A is found in shit and is acquired by getting shit in your mouth. Although there are other ways of catching Hepatitis A, during sex it can be passed on through acts such as arse-licking or rimming, fucking and fingering a guy’s arse.
The symptoms appear 2 – 6 weeks after infection and symptoms can include headache, fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, lethargy, and muscle and joint pains. Later your eyeballs and skin may become jaundiced (go yellow). The illness clears up by itself within 1 – 3 months, causing no lasting damage.
The Hepatitis B virus is in blood, cum, piss, spit and shit, as well as other body fluids of a person who’s infected. It is much more infectious than hepatitis A or HIV. If you catch Hepatitis B, you may not show any symptoms, but if you do they can include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, pain in the liver area, dark urine or light coloured shit and fever.
As mentioned, there is a vaccine but you will need to go back at regular intervals to have the vaccine boosted, to ensure you remain immune. While most people get over hepatitis B and cease to be infectious, about 10% remain long term carriers who are able to pass on the infection for many years.
Hepatitis C is not as easily passed on as Hepatitis A or B, but it can be the most damaging form of the disease and there is currently no vaccine for it. The Hepatitis C virus is present primarily in blood (including dried blood) and can also be passed on through cum when having unprotected sex. It can be treated with anti-viral drugs.
Herpes is a virus that is spread by skin to skin contact. There are two forms of herpes, HSV1, which causes cold sores around the mouth, and HSV2, or genital herpes, which leads to sores around the cock and arse. You can get Herpes by kissing, sucking cock, rimming, fucking without condoms and even by sharing sex toys.
Herpes appears as small blisters that tingle, itch, or sting and are very painful when they burst. These are filled with a clear liquid, which later turns into a yellowish scab. These sores usually last between 1 and 3 weeks. Genital herpes inside your urethra (piss-hole) will be particularly painful when you piss or cum, while in your arse it results in a burning sensation, especially when shitting. Once you catch Herpes, you have it for life, so it’s likely you will continue to have outbreaks for years to come. But the longer you have it, the less frequent the outbreaks. There is no cure for either form of Herpes although anti-viral treatments can ease the pain and shorten the duration of the attack.
Scabies is a skin disease caused by a tiny parasitic mite that lives just under the surface of your skin. It is usually most noticeable around your arse, groin, ankles, waist, wrists, arm-pits, and between your toes or fingers. Infestation with the parasite causes a red, bumpy, and very itchy rash in the affected areas, although you may notice it as small white bumps between your fingers. Scabies can be spread from any form of skin-to-skin contact and can also be caught from infested clothing, sheets, or towels. Treatment consists of painting your whole body, except your head, with a lotion and leaving it on for 24 hours; plus washing all bedding, clothing, and towels in the hottest cycle of the washing machine. Even if the treatment is successful itching may continue for up to two week so, if you think you’ve caught it, get to a sexual health clinic as quickly as you can.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection which is most usually transmitted through fucking without a condom and cock-sucking, but which can also be caught through rimming, fisting and even through skin to skin contact (although this is rare).
The symptoms develop in four stages:
Stage 1: a small painless sore or hardened lump will appear one to ten weeks after infection, near the point where the bacteria entered your body. This could be your arse, cock, or mouth.
Stage 2: up to two to six months later, you experience a rash on the body and a flu-like illness involving fever, headache, and sore throat.
Stage 3: At this stage syphilis usually has no symptoms but as the infection at this stage is established in the blood it can be easily transmitted to sexual partners.
Stage 4: After a couple of years, if left untreated, syphilis will stop being contagious to sexual partners but at this stage the infection can cause blindness, deafness, brain damage, heart attacks, paralysis, lung problems and strokes.
The good news is that Syphilis is detectable by a blood test and is completely curable with antibiotics, causing no permanent damage, if treated early enough. Even at the latest stage syphilis is still curable, but any damage done by the syphilis may be irreparable. Because the symptoms are easy to miss, it’s worth having regular sexual health check-ups, including blood tests for syphilis, if you are sexually active.
Warts are abnormal skin growths caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). They are transmitted by touch during sex. Related forms of the virus produce genital warts or warts on the hands. Although rare, it is possible to transfer warts from hands to cock, or arse. Genital warts are found on the inside or outside of the cock and arse. Usually white or pink, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes: smooth and flat, rough and bumpy, small and isolated, and cauliflower-like clusters. They are periodically itchy or painful, particularly if you get them inside your cock hole or arse. If this happens, it can cause severe discomfort or bleeding when you fuck, piss, shit, or cum.
It usually takes about three months from the time of infection for genital warts to become visible. However, they can appear as soon as two weeks or up to a year after the virus is contracted. Without treatment the warts multiply and spread and it can take a long time to get rid of them.
As gay men, its important to get tested for sexually transmitted infections regularly, preferably once every 6 months and not only after unprotected sex but as part of a healthy sex life. However, if you have lots of sexual partners, testing once every 3 months is recommended.
Testing can be done at special GUM (Genito Urinary Medicine) clinics. You may hear them called; STD, special, sexual health, VD or Clap clinics.
At these clinics you can get:
- Information and advice from a health advisor about sexually transmitted infections and healthy sex life.
- Vaccinations, tests and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases.
- Free condoms and lubricants.
It is important to be aware that:
- Access to testing normally takes a very short time and results can be collected either on the same day, following day or week depending on the particular clinic.
- Services in these clinics are totally confidential and will not be included into your health records held by your GP.
- Do not have sexual contact with another person if you are going through treatment for an STI until you have completed the treatment and have had a follow up test to confirm the all clear.
Sex is great, however, there are risks involved and the more informed you are of the risks, a healthier sexual life you can lead.
It is not the type of person you are, the lifestyle you follow, or where you come from in the world that puts you at risk of getting infected with an STI but rather what you do. That is why you should always practice safe sex.
Here are some strategies to help you manage your sex life:
- Enjoy sex, use a condom.
- Get regular checkups.
- Keep up-to-date on sexual health matters.
- Take action if you notice anything out of the ordinary.
- Support/encourage your partners to adapt the same strategies.