Health issues for homosexual men

Men who have sex with other men are at a higher risk of specific health issues

Men who have sex with other men are at a higher risk of specific health issues

All people may have certain health risks. However, those men who have sex with other men are at a higher risk of specific health issues. Although health risks of an individual are formed by lots of factors that have nothing to do with sexual orientation (like age or family history), it is essential to know health issues that are more common for homosexual men.

Mental health

Homophobic stereotypes that prevail in the society are absorbed from childhood. When starting to realize their sexuality the majority of homosexual men find themselves in a situation of a conflict between their nature and the negative image imposed by the society. Not everyone can find a positive way out of this serious internal conflict. Some homosexuals tend to project this negative stereotype on themselves, such self-hatred is called internalized homophobia.

Internalized homophobia is a risk factor on its own. A connection has been found between the degree of self-acceptance and a risky behavior. Homosexual men who suffer from negative consequences of external and internal homophobia often practice unprotected sex. And, vice versa, high degree of adaptation and self-acceptance leads to adequate health concerns and safe sex practices.


living in a constantly hostile environment and the necessity to hide their personal life causes constant stress

In addition, living in a constantly hostile environment and the necessity to hide their personal life causes constant stress. Such individuals can turn to the negative options like drugs and alcohol abuse or anonymous sex to relieve their chronic stress. According to the statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC), if compared with the general population, homosexual men are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, as well as other substances (amyl nitrates, amphetamines,etc.) as a reaction to discrimination, homophobia, or violence they face because of their sexual orientation. Drug abuse and depression can result in a reckless sexual behavior even among men who understand its deadly risks. Such behavior is dangerous particularly as it increases the risk for HIV transmission.

Whether or not discrimination is the real cause, mental issues and disorders have been found to be more common among males who have sex with other males. In 2008, Professor Michael King (University College London, UK) performed a review of 28 publications concerning this subject. All of them were published between 1966 and 2005, they involved a total of 11,971 homosexual and 214,344 heterosexual people. The analysis showed that the rate of suicide attempts is twice higher among lesbian, gay and bisexual people. As for the risks of various anxiety disorders and depression, they were at least 1.5 times higher in homosexual people. All in all homosexual men tend to have worse mental health than heterosexuals, which is most evident on the measure of suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Physical health

In addition to psychological problems, homosexual men are at a higher risk of developing a whole range of physiological and infectious diseases. The authors of the issued publication “Medical Problems of the Homosexual Adolescent” divide the diseases that active homosexual men have to face into 4 main groups:

  • ‘Classic’ sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, scabies, pubic lice, genital warts, herpes simplex infections, human papilloma virus (HPV);
  • Enteric diseases – shigellosis (infections with Shigella species) , campilobacteriosis (infection with Campylobacter jejuni), salmonellosis, giardiasis, amebiasis, infections with cytomegalovirus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B;
  • Trauma – fecal incontinence, anal fissures, hemorrhoids, allergic proctitis, rectosigmoid tears, foreign bodies;

Even when using a condom, anal sex can still be dangerous mainly for the receptive partner. Since anal sphincter is able to stretch only minimally, it can be seriously damaged by thrusting during anal sex. Damage that is more serious can be caused by inserting something of a bigger size in the rectum, for example, during a common practice called fisting. That is why those who practice anal sex, and particularly men who have sex with men, are at a higher risk of having injuries of the rectum, as well as fecal incontinence and anal cancer.


During anal intercourse soft tissues of the rectum are injured

During anal intercourse soft tissues of the rectum are injured as well. These tissues help accumulate the relatively soft fecal matter to prepare it for the excretion by means of quite slow bowel contractions. The tissues of the rectum are never as strong and thick as that of vagina; therefore, they always get injured in a varying degree during anal sex. Even if there is no evident trauma, micro tears and fissures of the rectal mucosa promote penetration of various microorganisms into the bloodstream. Due to the fact that in monogamous homosexual couples the risk of being infected with AIDS is significantly lower than in polygamous homosexuals, they tend to practice anal sex without condoms more often than single gay men who lead a polygamous lifestyle. As a result, there is an increased risk of other diseases.

Homosexual men more often than women play a receptive role in anal sex, that’s why the risk level for these men are much higher than for women. Besides, vaginal tears are less common thanks to the specific structure of vaginal mucosa and its resistance, and the very environment of the vagina is, let’s say, ‘cleaner’ than that of the rectum. Human rectum forms almost insuperable and impenetrable barrier between the highly toxic and infectious intestinal contents and the bloodstream. Anal sex causes damage to this barrier in a receptive partner, and it does not matter if he uses a condom or not.

As per the data provided by the CDC, gay men are the group of population most heavily affected by the HIV infection. Although homosexual men represent approximately 4% of the US male population, in 2010 they accounted for about 78% of the new HIV cases in males. According to the National LGBT Cancer Network, the recent studies have discovered that the incidence of anal cancer prevails in homosexual men and it is increasing every year. Most of the cases of anal cancer are associated with the HPV transmitted by anal intercourse. In addition, the current statistics is that HIV-negative homosexual men are 20 times likely, and HIV-positive – 40 times likely, to be diagnosed with anal cancer.


Homosexual men have to face various serious health issues and problems because of their sexual orientation. They are more severely affected by drug and alcohol use, various sexually transmitted diseases like hepatitis, HIV, and mental issues like depression if compared to other males.

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