Sexuality for the Man With Cancer

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Men who have sex with men

There are special health guidelines for men who have sex with men, so you should seek care from doctors and nurses who are sensitive to your social situation and respect your privacy. They should also be aware of the extra care you may need. If you are in a relationship, you will want to find health care providers who understand and encourage your partner to be involved in your health care. Check the “To learn more” section for information on getting referrals to doctors and nurses who are sensitive to health care and sexuality concerns for men who have sex with men.

Health care providers need to know, for instance, that men who have sex with men are at higher risk of becoming infected with hepatitis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the virus that causes AIDS). They need to know how to test for and manage these kinds of problems. Often, men who have sex with men will need extra tests and vaccines, too. (See the “Frequently asked questions” section for more information on HIV.)

All men, regardless of sexual orientation, have relationship and self-esteem concerns – with or without a cancer diagnosis. But relationship issues are different for men who are already in a long-term relationship than they are for men who are not. Men who are in committed relationships often share communication issues that are much like those of many other couples as they go through cancer. But they often must deal with discrimination, too – sometimes even from family members and friends. This can cause emotional pain and greatly complicate their lives when one member of the couple has cancer.

If your long-term partner is more likely to know your health wishes than your family, it’s important to write advance directives. That way, everyone knows who’s to make decisions for you if you become unable to do so. Make sure your doctors, your partner, and your family know what you want and give them copies of your advance directives. Otherwise, family members who don’t know what you want may be the ones legally expected to make decisions for you in the event that you become unable to speak for yourself. (See our document called Advance Directives for more on this.)


Last Medical Review: 08/19/2013
Last Revised: 08/19/2013