Pride Month: Sexual Health of Men in Same Sex Relationships

Most information available about sexual health is focused on male/female relationships. Male same sex couples face many of the same issues including erectile dysfunction and prostate issues but they also have other unique challenges.

Men in same sex relationships

STDs

Men in same sex relationships have an increased risk of contracting STDs including HIV, hepatitis, HPV, herpes, gonorrhea and syphilis. It is important to engage in protected sex, with a condom and water-based lubricant, to prevent a condom from breaking and exposing both partners to possible infection.

As is the same with heterosexual couples, being monogamous is the most reliable way of reducing the risk of infection. Both partners can be tested for STDs while also engaging in protected sex with a condom.

Vaccination for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and HPV is available for men, helping to prevent liver infections (hepatitis A and B) and anal cancer (HPV). Regarding HPV, the focus has typically been on women because of its connection to cervical cancer but this incredibly common virus has gained more attention because of its connection to anal cancer in men.

HIV continues to be of greater concern for the male gay community than the heterosexual community. Even though gay men represent about 4% of the population, they still account for a staggering 78% of new HIV infections. This statistic only highlights how important it is for gay men to be protective and aware of their own and their partner’s health.

Erectile Dysfunction

Although often not discussed, Erectile Dysfunction (ED) can be just as prevalent, and troubling, for same sex male couples as it is for heterosexual couples. Feelings of guilt, shame or embarrassment can amplify the situation and many men may decide to not seek help. It is important for men to attempt to be open about what they’re experiencing to help with ED if its source is psychological. If the problem is physical and related to bloodflow, circulation or an enlarged prostate, all of the same erectile dysfunction advice we have provided in the past applies. Men might also consider a system like the Private Gym, which can improve a man’s pelvic floor strength–improving blood flow, control and even helping to prevent or alleviate an enlarged prostate (which may be the cause of the erectile dysfunction). Devices like the Deuce Harness also allow men to utilize a dildo for intercourse while comfortably fitting their penis through a second hole in the harness. The Pulse II Solo is also created for men to use while flaccid, which may help provide the initial blood flow to assist an erection.

Depression

Given our society’s pressures on both men and women to fulfill certain expected gender roles, being anything other than a typical male stereotype can generate psychological issues for many men in same sex couples. Living a closeted life can create additional stress and anxiety, increasing the risk of depression and attempted suicide. Other factors such as an HIV diagnosis, rejection, body image issues and other health issues can contribute or exacerbate depression in gay men. It is important to seek support through local LGBTQ resources, seek professional therapy or simply confide in a trusted friend to share feelings of isolation and depression.

Male Same Sex Sexual Health Resources:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/mens-health/in-depth/health-issues-for-gay-men/art-20047107

http://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/

http://betablog.org/

https://www.aids.gov/

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