Five Medical Topics Every Gay Man Should Know
Mark Olsen, MBA
January 21, 2022
Finding a gay-doctor can be tricky, but it does not have to feel impossible. Like everyone else looking for a healthcare professional, you want your needs taken seriously and respected by the doctor rendering treatment. It also can be challenging to know how or when you should make your doctor aware of any general LGBTQ identifying information. When you think you have found a doctor that you feel comfortable sharing this kind of information with, Cross Valley Health & Medicine identified these five healthcare topics as commonly mentioned concerns for gay men.
Men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of contracting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), may lead to the development of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Gay men also have a higher risk of acquiring other sexually transmitted infections. Taking these steps may protect yourself from developing sexually transmitted infections:
- New condoms should be used every time you have sex; both anal and oral sex apply. If you are unsure about the topic of condoms, click here to learn more. If lubricants are being used, try to use only water-based ones and stray away from body lotions or other oils since they can weaken latex condoms.
- Being in a monogamous relationship means staying with your partner for an extended period of time. Limiting yourself to one romantic relationship will lower the chances of developing sexually transmitted infections.
- Vaccinations have the chance to protect you and your partner from hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Talk with your provider about which vaccine may be suitable for you.
- If you and your partner end up having unprotected sex, allow yourself time to get tested. Testing regularly helps you stay healthy and keeps your partner(s) healthy since not everyone is honest about their health-related activities.
- A commonly used medication, called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), is used for those who are at high risk for HIV and it helps prevent acquiring HIV through sex or injection drug use. This is not a full-proof substitution to use instead of condoms, but when combined, these provide a much higher chance to prevent contracting HIV when engaging in high-risk activities with your partner.
Communication plays such a critical role in helping prevent the transmission of sexually-involved infections. Talk with your partner about the risks associated with unprotected sex and understand each other’s health now before it is too late.
Being a member of a marginalized social group can induce what is called minority stress. Gay men are sometimes subjected to undesirable due to their sexual preferences. With stress comes multiple ways to remain calm, and most choose to use alcohol or drugs to help. The American Addiction Centers explained that “the use of tobacco products is significantly higher in gay individuals than in heterosexuals; some studies suggest 200% higher.” They also stated, “gay men are far more likely to use amphetamines than heterosexual man (as much as 12 times more likely).” For those suffering from some form of substance abuse, talking with your doctor is a significant first step to solving your addiction. When your addiction starts to hinder your relationships or job performance, it may be time to have a series of discussions with your healthcare provider.
Many gay men have found themselves becoming depressed over the way they look. Growing up in a gay-friendly environment could have come with body types that are shown to have very in-shape figures that many gay men would want to be like. Many develop eating disorders, like bulimia and anorexia, trying to reach their ideal weight fast. If you find yourself constantly worrying about your body image, speaking with a medical professional can help. Treatment options are usually uniquely made for each patient, so do not worry about that.
Depression & Anxiety
For those gay men who do not have a foundation of social support, they are at high risk for depression or developing suicidal thoughts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weighed in, saying “ongoing homophobia, stigma (negative and usually unfair beliefs), and discrimination (unfairly treating a person or group of people) can have negative effects on your health.” Keeping your sexual orientation hidden from others will eventually build up enough stress to cause depression. Finding a support system that works for you is the key to relieving these stressors, as you will find people who also are encountering the same things you are.
Prostate, Testicular, and Colon Cancer
Some research shows that gay men don’t tell their medical providers about their sexual orientation out of fear of being disseminated. This will affect the level of care they receive. On the topic of cancer, “cigarette smoking among gay men is nearly double that of the general population. Smoking is responsible for 80% of all lung cancers, but it also increases the risk for man other cancers, including colon cancer, esophageal cancer and anal cancer” according to the Cancer Network. Prostate, testicular and colon cancers are some of the leading cancer types for death for gay men, so talk with your doctor about scheduling routine screenings for cancer.
If you’re afraid of being judged for your sexual orientation, do not let that stop the medical care necessary to stay healthy. Find a doctor who makes their patients feel comfortable and intensify yourself as homosexual so they can recommend screenings appropriate for men in your age group. The Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality (GLMA) has many resources here to read up on.
Cross Valley Health & Medicine has two practitioners who are LGBTQ accepting. Read more about the services we provide here.
Cross Valley Health & Medicine is a primary care practice located in Newburgh NY, allowing for both virtual and in-person appointments. The practice has two medical providers on staff, Doctor Paul Saladino who is dual board-certified in Addiction Medicine and Internal Medicine and a Christian Plaza who is a family nurse practitioner. Both practitioners are eager to see new patients for the following programs: Substance Abuse Treatment, Behavioral Health Management, HIV/AIDS Care Management, Primary Care, Medical Marijuana Certifications, Medication-Assisted Treatment, STD/STI Care Management, and Weight Loss Management. If you are interested in becoming a patient of Cross Valley, please click here to access our online paperwork portal. Visit us online at www.crossvalleyhealth.com or give our office a call at 845-561-7075.