Eight conversations to have with your doctor
Here’s a quick cheat sheet of eight conversations you might strike up with your doctor. Of course, you should tell your doctor whenever you’re not feeling well or have concerns about your health.
The conversation about your orientation
If your doctor doesn’t know you have sex with men, they won’t be able to give you the best care possible. And if your doctor isn’t comfortable with your sexuality, it’s the time to find a new healthcare provider.
The conversation about sexual health
Discuss the best ways to maintain your sexual health. If you are HIV-negative, bring up these topics:
- Using condoms to prevent HIV and/or STDs.
- Getting or staying on PrEP.
- Taking PEP if you’ve been exposed to HIV (in the past 72 hours).
- Getting tested HIV and STDs.
- Getting the Hep A and Hep B vaccines.
- Getting the HPV vaccine if you’re under 26 years old.
If you are HIV-positive, talk to your doctor about maintaining an undetectable viral load to keep you healthy and protect your partners. You’ll also want to talk about condoms, regular STD testing, and vaccinations. While PrEP and PEP aren’t right for you, ask how these medications can keep your HIV-negative partners from getting HIV.
The conversation about STDs and testing
If you’re in a mutually monogamous relationship, a good rule of thumb is to get tested for HIV and STDs annually. If you or your partners have sex with more than one person, it’s a good idea to get tested every three to six months.
Think you’ve been exposed to HIV or an STD recently? See your doctor or healthcare provider as soon as possible.
The conversation about diet and fitness
What does staying fit mean for you? Talk to your doctor about your diet and which types of exercise are a good fit for you. Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, are common among gay men. So is obesity, which can lead to major health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
The conversation about alcohol and drugs
Did you know that gay men tend to use substances—including alcohol, marijuana, and party drugs—at higher rates than the general population? If substance use is interfering with your daily life, your doctor may be able to connect you to services that can help.
The conversation about depression and anxiety
If you’re feeling down or anxious, you’re not alone. Depression and anxiety affect gay men at a higher rate than the general population. Your doctor can refer you to specialists who provide counseling and treatment.
The conversation about tobacco and vaping
If you use any kind of tobacco or vaping product, talk to your doctor about how it may be affecting your health. Tobacco and vaping-related health problems include lung disease, lung cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
The conversation about certain types of cancer
Ask your doctor about which cancer screenings are right for you. Depending on your age and health history, you may be at a higher risk for developing prostate, testicular, colon, or other types of cancer.
Do you bottom? Talk to your doctor about getting an anal Pap smear, which tests for signs of anal cancer.