Talking to your doctor
Interview your potential doctor
Once you’ve found a potential doctor, ask them about their experience and comfort level treating gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men (MSM). You’re trusting your doctor with your care, so it makes perfect sense that they be knowledgeable—and comfortable—with you and your needs.
Even in Massachusetts, it’s possible to find a doctor who has little to no experience with things like PrEP or PEP. This doesn’t necessarily mean a doctor is not cool with the MSM population; it may mean they haven’t treated enough patients with these needs. You’ll find that most doctors are willing to do the research to treat their patients appropriately.
The important thing is that you feel comfortable talking to your doctor about anything that’s affecting you—physically and mentally. If you’re uncomfortable, it’s time to look elsewhere!
If you’re worried about being outed, every doctor takes a pledge to not divulge anything they learn about you behind closed doors. Furthermore, it’s a law that doctors respect the privacy of their patients.
Do you run five miles a day? Smoke cigarettes? Eat a plant-based diet? Do you have sex regularly without a condom? Information like this is critical to helping your doctor diagnose and treat problems.
But let’s face it: Being candid isn’t always easy—especially when you’re lying half-naked on a table talking about sex. But there’s no need to be embarrassed. Whether you see a doctor, nurse practitioner, or another type of healthcare provider, it’s important to discuss any habits or patterns that could affect your health.
Make sure you understand everything your doctor tells you. If they use unfamiliar words or terms, ask them to explain.
If a test comes back positive or your doctor shows concern about your health, learn how you can reduce the damage or treat the problem. Even if you get a clean bill of health, your doctor will most likely offer advice on how to lead a healthier life.
Don’t fear the known
There’s the fear of the unknown, and then there’s fear of the known. You may be afraid to learn that you have an STD or some other condition, but being scared of the truth can hurt you.
If you’ve had sex without a condom and believe you may have caught something, tell your doctor. Testing will give you peace of mind if it comes back negative. And if it’s positive, you and your doctor can take the appropriate actions in a timely way.
The bottom line is to not be afraid of living a healthy life. See a list of topics to ask your doctor.