Gay men often face unique health care challenges than heterosexual men. In order to provide you with the best care possible, your clinician should know you are gay. If this is not necessarily an option with your current health care provider, then it is strongly suggested that you change providers. By not being open and honest with your health care provider you are potentially missing out on your specific health care needs which you may or may not be aware of. If your provider does not seem comfortable with you as a gay man, or you feel that they're not giving you the best health care options due to prejudice or an inability to acknowledge your sexuality, choose a different healthcare provider. Below you'll find a list of the issues which affect mature men. It is important that you read through this and understand the health risks associated with ageing and being gay. If you have any further questions as a result of these issues, please speak to your health care professional.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer affecting men in Australia, after non melonoma skin cancer. The statistics are so high that in 2010 they equated to 55 new cases of prostate cancer every single day with the cancer affecting 1 in every 8 males. Prostate cancer mostly affects older men over the age of 50, with prostate cancer affecting younger men considered to be quite rare. Whilst there have been reports that have suggested that gay men who are receivers of anal sex (being penetrated) are at an increased risk, there has been no conclusive evidence to date that backs this claim. What does provide extra risk according to the Prostate Cancer UK, The American Cancer Society and The Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia (PCFA) are a family history of prostate cancer, and an over consumption of red meat and high fat dairy foods.
Prostate cancer is as a result of the development of abnormal cells in the prostate. These cells can manifest themselves in two ways, they can either remain localised to the prostate, or they can spread to other organs throughout the body. There is no single test that can help with the detection of prostate cancer, and detection usually relies on multiple tests to ensure determine you prostate health. In the early stages, prostate cancer may not show many of the symptoms normally associated with prostate cancer including; difficulty urinating, pain during ejaculation or urination, increased frequency of urination and incontinence. The earlier that prostate cancer is detected, the more effective and less radical the treatment can be. If you have a family history of prostate cancer it’s very important that you get regularly tested for prostate cancer.
The Transmission Of STI's:-
A lot of older gay men, for whatever reason, might choose to no longer use condoms. They might consider themselves to be in a monogamous relationship, they might feel embarrassed talking about safe sex, or they simply might feel that they're at an age where it simply doesn't matter anymore. However, the statistics show that it is very important for older individuals engaging in sexual activity to still practice safe sex. Family Planning NSW reported that in the past three years that new cases of gonorrhoea with Australians over the age of 40 has risen by 44 per cent, and chlamydia rising 17 per cent within the same period. In America, a four year study of individuals over the age of 65 demonstrated an increase of Syphilis by 52 per cent, and an increase of chlamydia by 31 per cent. Mature men, are not immune from the transmission of Sexually Transmitted Illnesses with the Australian study showing that there were two cases of men for every woman. Whilst the studies did not differentiate between sexuality, previous studies have demonstrated that gay men are 3 times more likely to become infected than their heterosexual counterparts. As such, we can speculate that that the transmission of STI's among mature gay men can be quite high in comparison to other age groups and sex and sexuality. Safe sex, and the practice of safe sex, is important for everyone regardless of age. A lot of people also forget that when using sex toys, that they should be ensuring that they’re clean and sterilised. Common mistakes surrounding toy hygiene are particularly applicable to the sharing of penis plugs, dildos and using unsafe lubricant between sexual partners.
Hepatitis Immunization And Screening:-
Men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of sexually transmitted infection with the viruses that cause the serious condition of the liver known as hepatitis. These infections can be potentially fatal, and can lead to very serious long-term issues such as liver failure and liver cancer. Immunizations are available to prevent two of the three most serious viruses. Universal immunization for Hepatitis A Virus and Hepatitis B Virus is recommended for all men who have sex with men. Safe sex is effective at reducing the risk of viral hepatitis, and is currently the only means of prevention for the very serious Hepatitis C Virus. If you have Hepatitis C there are new, more effective treatments for that infection, however there is no cure and all treatments relate to the management of the illness as opposed to healing.
HPV (Virus That Causes Warts And Can Lead To Anal Cancer):-
Of all the sexually transmitted infections gay men are at risk for, human papilloma virus (HVP) — which cause anal and genital warts — is often thought to be little more than an unsightly inconvenience. However, these infections may play a role in the increased rates of anal cancers in gay men. Some health professionals now recommend routine screening with anal Pap Smears, similar to the test done for women to detect early cancers. Safe sex should be emphasized. Treatments for HPV do exist, but recurrences of the warts are very common, and the rate at which the infection can be spread between partners is very high.
Hiv/Aids, Safe Sex:-
Many men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of HIV infection, but the effectiveness of safe sex in reducing the rate of HIV infection is one of the gay community’s great success stories. If you are HIV positive, you need to be in care with a good HIV health-care provider. Safe sex is proven to reduce the risk of receiving or transmitting HIV. You should also discuss and be aware of what to do in the event that you are exposed to HIV (Post-Exposure- Prophylaxis) and you should also read up on the benefits of Truveda and PrEP which can greatly assist if you are in a relationship where one of you is positive. Safe sex is the best kind of sex that you can have, especially when you’re in a new relationship.
Erectile dysfunction is characterised not as a disease, but as a symptom or result of some other underlying issue which might be physical, psychological or both. Erectile dysfunction can happen randomly, on a night of particular stress or alcohol consumption, or it might be a chronic condition. If you are repeatedly unable to get an erection whether that be as a couple, or during solo time, then consult your health care provider to discuss underlying issues.
Men who identify as being gay, or men who have sex with other men, are at an increased risk of developing psychological distress including depression. Depression can be significantly greater in mature gay men as they also struggle to deal with changing hormones, life style changes and the idea of getting older. Depression is also a significant risk for those either struggling to deal with their sexuality, or whom have recently come out as they confront contributing factors which might include social isolation and alienation, discrimination and abuse, rejection by family and close friends, and violence. Depression is greater among rural men who do not have the same social networks and support as other men, and for men who have tried to hide their sexuality or whom have come out later in life. The BeyondBlue website, an Australian resource for people suffering with depression, lists the following signs and symptoms of depression:
- Significant changes in behaviour which might include not partaking in outdoor activities anymore or activities/hobbies that they once enjoyed, difficulty in concentration and not completing tasks, withdrawing from social events and friends and family, and an increased reliance on drugs and alcohol.
- Changes in emotions and feelings where they might feel constantly irritated, overwhelmed with daily life, being indecisive and unhappy, as well as lacking confidence and being sad.
- Physical changes in terms of feeling constantly tired and run down, increased levels of physical sickness, significant weight loss that is not attributed to diet changes or exercise and sleeping issues.
Left untreated depression can result in a significant increase of partaking in risky sexual behaviour, it can also lead to behavioural problems, health issues, and potentially even legal and financial issues. It is important, that if you are feeling any of the above symptoms that you bring it up to your health care provider at the earliest possible opportunity. Even if there's an underlying cause for the above symptoms, depression is something that you should get treated.
Gay men generally use substances at a higher rate than the general population, this effect is not just limited to larger cities. Substance, and substance abuse may be in the form of consuming; amyl nitrate (“poppers”), to marijuana, Ecstasy, and amphetamines and alcohol. The long-term effects of many of these substances are unknown however current wisdom suggests potentially serious consequences as we age. Whilst many of these drugs and substances can be used for recreational, we define recreational use as occasional use and through which the use of a substance is not necessary to enjoy a good night out, every single time you go out. Substance abuse, and addiction, can be categorised as consistent, repeated use of a substance whereby the use of this substance will impact and affect life outside the club/house.If your drug use is interfering with work, school or relationships, your healthcare provider can connect you to help.
There is a stereotype that has been placed on the queer community that they are vain, self-absorbed and utterly obsessed with image. The use of the stereotype is offensive, but there is no denying the idea that body image plagues the queer community. How can it not, when the idea of being gay is often put together with an image of a muscular guy with a six pack abs, and whose underwear fits perfectly. The issue is compounded by the saturation of hot, toned men in most gay hardcore films. Trying to find anything outside the idealised body image usually relegates you to the fetish section in most adult stores or online. Though, it should be noted that a lot of stores specialising in gay XXX Videos are addressing this. Yes, there has been a resurgence in the love of the 'dad body' but for both young gays, and mature gays, there is a preoccupation with body image as they desperately try to conform to the idealised male image. Whilst this is not an exclusive thing to the queer community, as it is seen in heterosexual men, it is clear body image is a significant issue. Gay men are far more likely to experience body image issues and this can manifest itself into a range of different things which can include eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, and can result in Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Body image can also result in depression, and wide ranging health consequences. If you're struggling with any form of eating disorder, or pre-occupation with image then it is advised that you speak to your health care provider.
Many people attribute aging to the physical changes that occur on the outside of your body, however, did you know that your organs can age and will show changes as well? Your heart is one such organ which undergoes many physical changes as you get older (especially if it is suffering from a form of illness or disease), one of the most noticeable is the fact that your heart can no longer beat as fast during any form of physical activity that it did when you were younger. Interestingly, your heart rate, the number of beats per minute that your heart makes, doesn't change.
One of the more common physical changes to the heart that can occur as you get older is arteriosclerosis (a hardening of the arteries), this issue causes blood pressure to go up significantly. This is not the only thing that can occur with other changes including:
- Stiffening of the blood vessels
- Stiffening or thickening of the blood valves, which can lead to leaks and issues concerning blood pumping out of the heart
- Size changes to particular sections of the heart
With cardiovascular disease affecting one in three men, and the fact that all heart diseases can lead to serious and fatal complications if left untreated, it is important to ensure that you are looking after your heart. To help with this endeavour we advise that you seek regular doctor advice and routine check-ups so that you can get tailored information to suit your lifestyle.
In Australia 280 people are diagnosed with some form of diabetes every single day. That equates to one new case every five minutes. Left untreated diabetes can lead to kidney damage, nerve damage, heart diseases and strokes, and in some people can cause vision problems and blindness. Diabetes in men, will also affect their testosterone levels and can be a contributing factor to the development of impotence. Diabetes affects the body's ability to produce glucose, and this can directly affect our energy levels as our body converts glucose into energy as fuel for the body. All forms of diabetes are complex diseases which result in changes to daily life, and they will require constant care and maintenance. Currently untreatable, diabetes is a disease that can be managed.