Whether you're gay or straight, if you have hemophilia you're a part of our community...
HEMOPHILIA AND SEXUAL DIVERSITY? “STRAIGHT TALK” FOR THE GAY HEMOPHILIAC
You’re Not Alone. Here’s What You Need to Know.
You’re Not Alone. Here’s What You Need to Know. A Q&A with Hemophilia Expert Ed Kuebler.
Q. Is gay sex more risky than straight sex if you have hemophilia?
A. No. Like any strenuous physical activity for someone with hemophilia, sex is risky to the extent that it can increase the possibility of a bleed. This holds true for both gay and straight sex.
Most sexual acts involve areas of the body that have a lot of blood vessels, like the mouth, genitals and anus. You should be particularly aware of the potential for a bleed in these areas.
It’s important that you:
- Watch for signs of problems after you have sex.
- Use protection whenever you have sex—including anal or oral sex—to protect yourself from contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
Q. What signs of a bleed should I watch out for after I’ve had sex?
A. Things you should look out for include an injury to the penis, which could be marked by:
- external bleeding;
- a change in the color of your urine;
- swelling; or
If you have any of these symptoms you should seek professional medical help as soon as possible.
Sex also increases the risk of an internal bleed in your psoas muscles, which are important muscles that extend from either side of your spine through your pelvis and continue on to your hip joints. This can be a hard bleed to recognize. Look for the following signs after sex:
- You can’t straighten your legs while lying down
- You need to use your hands to support yourself when you stand up
If this happens, contact your treatment center or hematologist as soon as possible.
Q. Does being gay place extra stress on someone who has hemophilia?
- If you are gay, the first thing you have to realize is that you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
- Second, you have to know that you’re not alone, even if it seems like no one you know is gay or would understand what you’re going through.
- Finally, talk to someone you trust about how you feel, such as a professional counselor or therapist, a close friend, or a member of your healthcare team. If you don’t have anyone you feel comfortable turning to in person, you might want to go online and learn from the experiences of other people.
Q. Will I be safe from bleeds if I don’t have penetrative sex with my partner?
A. Sexual activities like kissing and oral sex can seem less risky than penetrative sex, but still carry an increased risk of bleeding. Anything that brings blood to the surface of the skin, from biting and nibbling to getting a hickie, can cause problems for someone with hemophilia.
Q. Does being gay and having hemophilia make me more likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease?
A. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight: if you have unsafe sex, you’re at risk of getting an STD. Also remember that condoms aren’t 100 percent reliable, so the more you have sex, and the more sexual partners you have, the greater your exposure. Ultimately, it’s down to you to be responsible and manage your risk.
Ed Kuebler is a social worker at the University of Texas Gulf States Hemophilia and Thrombophilia Center and director of Step Up Reach Out program for young leaders of international hemophilia communities.