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Sexual Health services in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin

OpenClinic

Sexual Health services in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin

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Men Who Have Sex with Men

Your sexuality and sex

When it comes to your sexuality and sex, these are some important things to consider:

  • You have the right to change your mind at any point during sex
  • You don’t need to have a certain type of sex, just because you identify as gay, bisexual or another sexual orientation
  • You should never be pushed into doing something you’re uncomfortable with

 

STIs and testing

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) can be passed on through all types of sex. This includes anal, oral and vaginal sex, and close skin-to-skin contact.

If you’re a man having sex with men, without condoms and with someone new, you should have an STI and HIV test every 3 months. Otherwise, you should take a test at least once a year.

There are different testing options available, including home testing kits, and visiting clinics. For more information on this, visit our Sexual Health and STIs page.

 

What are common STI symptoms?

Some signs you may have an STI include:

  • An unusual discharge from the penis or anus
  • pain when peeing
  • swollen or painful testicles (balls)
  • lumps or skin growths around the genitals or anus
  • a rash
  • itchy genitals or anus
  • blisters and sores around your genitals or anus
  • warts around your genitals or anus

If you have some of these symptoms, it doesn’t always mean you have an STI, but it’s worth visiting your nearest sexual health clinic if you’re worried.

To find your nearest sexual health clinic visit www.openclinic.org.uk/clinics.

But don’t forget, many STIs have no symptoms at all so the only way to know for sure is to get tested. If you have no symptoms and are aged 16+, you can order an STI testing kit online.

 

Visiting a sexual health clinic

When you visit one of our sexual health clinics, we may ask you questions about the type of sex you have had, and about your sexual partners. This is so we can make sure we are providing the right testing options for you. All the information you provide is confidential.

To test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea we will ask you for urine or swab sample. Depending on the type(s) of sex you’ve had, you may be able to do this yourself. For other tests such as HIV and syphilis, a blood test is taken.

We can help support you to attend the clinic if you’re worried; contact us to discuss this by emailing SexualHealthComms@mpft.nhs.uk​.

 

Condoms and dams

If you’re sexually active, condoms are your best defence against STIs. It’s important to know how to put a condom on correctly (watch our video here), as well as using the right size for you, to reduce the chance of it breaking or slipping off.

Dams (sometimes known as dental dams) are a latex sheet that can be used for oral sex on an anus (rimming) to protect against STIs. Remember to only use one side of the barrier; don’t flip it around and use the other side.

You can get free condoms (different size options available), dams and water-based lube, with a C-Card.

 

Why is lube important?

Lube is particularly important for anal sex, as the anus doesn’t lubricate itself. Lube also reduces the risk of a condom breaking.

Water-based lube is safe to use with condoms and all sex toys. Oil-based lubes can erode the latex in condoms, making them more likely to break. Silicone-based lube is safe to use with condoms, but can break down the rubber in some sex toys over time.

 

What if the condom breaks or I don’t use one?

If you have unprotected sex (without a condom) or a condom you are using breaks, call your nearest sexual health clinic for advice and for information on how and when to get an STI test.

If you are worried about HIV following unprotected sex or if a condom breaks, you may need to get PEP (see below).

 

What is PEP and where can I get it?

PEP is a combination of HIV drugs that can stop a HIV infection after possible exposure.

PEP must be taken within 72 hours of possible HIV exposure (ideally within 24 hours) and it is an emergency measure to be used as a last resort.

You can get PEP from a sexual health clinic, or A&E Department.

Read more about PEP on our PrEP and PEP page.

 

What is PrEP and where can I get it?

PrEP is a drug taken by HIV-negative people before and after sex that reduces the risk of getting HIV.

If you’re a HIV-negative man having condomless sex with men, and other people who have sex within these networks, you may benefit from taking PrEP.

Although PrEP protects against HIV, it doesn’t protect you from other STIs. It’s best to use PrEP as well as condoms, to help prevent HIV as well as other STIs.

You can get PrEP for free from sexual health clinics.

Read more about PrEP on our PrEP and PEP page.

 

Sexual Assault

If you have been sexually assaulted and would like support, your local Sexual Assault Referral Centre can help.

Find links to your local Sexual Assault Referral Centre on our website.