Culture //

Medicine, gender and sexual health

Leigh Nicholson has some tips for better sex.

Despite there being a slow but definite increase in queer sexual health awareness over the years, there are still a plethora of reasons why queer people can tend to avoid getting health checks or why we are just not getting the information we need.  The medical profession has always had an almost unwavering approach to using gendered language in the clinic, which is extremely off-putting for those of us triggered by misgendering.  There is a very long history of Medicine treating queer people, sex workers and oppressed groups as ‘sexual deviants’ and failing to provide them with equal sexual health care and essentially stigmatising them for decades.  Even within queer communities, the sexual health information provided is disproportionately weighted towards cis men, and stereotypes about non-cis male sex and susceptibilities are perpetuated freely and frequently.

Whilst it’s still super important to understand which acts and which bodies might inherently have an increased risk of contracting some conditions, it can also be potentially damaging to pick and choose which information different groups get. It’s not helpful to neglect some bodies’ certain information on symptoms just because an assumption has been made about those people and the sex they are having.  Creating an environment where people are made to feel uncomfortable about their identity and sexuality and then on top of that creating the misperception that some bodies can’t get some things is only going to make queer people more reluctant about discussing sex and sexuality with a GP.

Basically, any type of body can catch almost anything from different types of fucking.  Queer identifying women and non-cis men are constantly given limited sexual health resources due to shitty misconceptions about the sex they’re having. There’s no point in telling a group that they have ‘lower susceptibility’ if there’s still a chance they can get it. If you have unprotected sex with someone whose sexual history you don’t know, best to get checked.  There is no way I can provide a quick summary of STIs as an alternative to a practitioner visit, but here is a quick summary:


Urine Test

Chlamydia: Mostly invisible symptoms, but could have pain urinating

Gonorrhoea: Identified by discharge, pain urinating or swollen testicles

Blood Test

Syphilis: Causes ulcers, rashes and flu-like symptoms in everyone

HIV/AIDS: Can be invisible for ages, then develops slowly.


Herpes: Identified by genital blisters, swollen glands and fever symptoms


HPV: Identified by itching and warts in the genital region. There is currently no test but can kind of be diagnosed by symptoms. A pap smear is the closest you can get to a test for it.


There is no limit to what can constitute kink to someone, but there are some good general rules to remember.

– Use a safe word and always check in if you’re trying something new.

– If you’re going to use rope, for the love of god research and practice first. It is not okay to be stuck in a situation where someone needs to be untied ASAP and you can’t figure it out because you didn’t use a proper knot and instead just tied everything together randomly.

– It’s a really good idea to make sure everyone has been health checked if there is going to be any blood involved.  You should have already been health checked but doubly so with this.

– Don’t try anything involving knives, needles or sharp stuff unless you’ve gone to a proper workshop/class/something.

– After-care is important if you’re new to something. Make sure you have time afterwards to keep an eye on each other for a bit. Bonus points for cuddling.


– If you’re using penetrative toys, use a different condom each time you swap person or orifice.

– Soapy water won’t sterilise your toy. Use isopropyl alcohol, chlorinated sanitiser or viraclean.

– Store toys away from direct light and try not to let them touch.

– Make sure the lube you use with a toy is the right one. Eg. Don’t use silicone based lube with a silicone toy.