Gay and bisexual men, and men who have sex with men (MSM), are more likely to encounter sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Rates of chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea are on the increase in MSM and HIV infection numbers are at an all-time high.
One in four men who are HIV positive are unaware of their HIV status, so it's important that all sexually active men are tested on a regular basis.
We recommend that you book a full STI screening every three to six months or after changing partner. This is especially important if you have sexual partners who do not know their HIV status.
Lesbian and bisexual women are not safe from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and it's still important to be tested.
Women can catch STIs such as herpes, genital warts and chlamydia when exchanging bodily fluids. One-on-one contact, such as oral sex or using the same hand when touching yourself and then your partner, can put you at risk. Two women who are both menstruating are at a higher risk too.
Tips for safer sex between women:
A transgender (or trans) woman is someone who was assigned male at birth, because they were born with male sexual organs, but who identifies as female. They often experience these feelings from an early age, but may not disclose them until later in life. Trans women and girls may seek hormone therapy and surgery to bring their physical bodies into line with their gender. Most trans women use 'she' and 'her' pronouns.
A transgender (or trans) man is someone who was assigned female at birth, because they were born with female sexual organs, but who identifies as male. They often experience these feelings from an early age, but may not disclose them until later in life. Trans men and boys may seek hormone therapy and surgery to bring their physical bodies into line with their gender. Most trans men use 'he' and 'him' pronouns.
Some transgender people identify neither as male nor female: they feel as gender neutral, or as having no gender at all (agender). They may also feel that their gender identity varies at different times (genderfluid). People of non-binary gender may use they/them pronouns and may use the title Mx ("mix") instead of Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms. Non-binary identities are not currently recognised under UK law, although many other countries recognise them as legally valid. More people are coming to recognise and respect non-binary identities.
Not all transgender people choose to have hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery and those who do may have to wait a long time before getting treatment. Questions about whether a trans person is on hormones or has had surgery should be avoided unless this information is directly relevant. In sexual health services we may need to ask questions about this to decide what tests and treatments are most appropriate. This information will always be kept confidential.
The sexual health service is committed to ensuring that all our service users feel welcome. We know that if you are transgender, accessing health services can sometimes be difficult or daunting. You may have had negative experiences in the past or have heard that some NHS services are not trans-inclusive.
We promise not to make assumptions about your gender or to bring gender into the conversation if it is not relevant to your treatment. We also promise not to make assumptions about your gender based on the treatment you need. However, in sexual health, we may need to ask questions about your gender assigned at birth, and, for example, about whether you have had gender reassignment surgery or hormone treatment, so that we can ensure you get the right treatment. We promise to do this in a sensitive and discreet way.
If we could do something better, please tell us either in person or, if you prefer, ask for a feedback form at the clinic reception.
It is important to find out which screening appointments are the right ones for you. The NHS has developed an information leaflet to make health screening accessible and inclusive for all eligible populations. The leaflet explains who they invite for breast screening, bowel cancer screening, cervical screening and abdominal aortic aneurysm screening. It includes important information about all four screening processes and how to access additional support and advice.
Asexuality describes those people who do not feel a sexual attraction towards men or women. An asexual doesn't really have an emotional attachment to sex. Flexible Asexuals are more open to the idea of having sex and may be willing to have sex for the benefit of a sexual partner.
People who are asexual can have romantic relationships with other asexuals or people of other sexualities. Some prefer not to have any type of romantic relationship at all, it is down to the individual. Many asexuals who experience romantic attraction to a particular gender may also describe themselves as straight, gay or bisexual asexuals.
The integrated sexual health service offers support to all LGBT+ people on sexual health, sexuality and sexual orientation, homophobia, isolation, sexually transmitted infections, sexual abuse, self-esteem and family and relationship issues. Where appropriate we will provide a referral to specialist local agencies.
For more information about gender take a look at Bish UK - A Guide to Sexualities.
The BiLD website has further information about relationships, including same-sex relationships for people with learning difficulties or learning disabilities.