For many in the LGBTQ community, sexual activity behind closed doors involves more than just the generic sexual intercourse practice. Like anal intercourse, these types of activities require a level of hygiene and care to prevent infection.

“It’s a door to any kind of infection like Hep B, Hep C, or syphilis,” said Katie Liang, a nurse practitioner with Absolute Care in Atlanta. “It’s not just STD infections, but bacterial infections that can lead to fistulas and abscesses.”

The topic of conversation steers towards activities found in the kink world, like sounding or fisting. Liang says finding someone that you trust and are comfortable with is the first step in performing these acts safely.

“I would also hesitate using drugs during those kinds of interactions where power is at play,” she said. “Drugs and alcohol do lower inhibitions and it increases the likelihood of not taking the time to play safely.”

She says when it comes to fisting or the use of any types of toys in the anus, lubrication is key. “Using a lubricant that is either water or silicone based is important, and not using things like Vaseline, baby oil, olive oil, or coconut oil,” said Liang. “We want to make sure that we’re maintaining lubrication because the rectal cavity does not self-lubricate. It’s got to be maintained so that the integrity of the skin and rectal membranes can be maintained.”

Although studies vary, an estimated 10 percent of the US population has engaged in kink activities, with a much larger proportion interested in it. Within the gay community, those numbers significantly increase.

Among those activities, sounding is becoming popular with gay men. But infection with this type of kink can be dangerous, if not practiced safely.

“The closest thing I can relate that to in the medical world is like putting in a catheter,” she said. “When we do that in the hospital, we are using sterile techniques to prevent infection, and we’re using a lot of lubrication.”

If not done correctly or safely, the risk of urinary tract infections increases significantly. Liang suggests using gloves and surgical lubricant, and cleaning the sounding rods thoroughly before and after use.

Safe play is one of the areas of expertise for Liang, and her patients know they can open up to her confidentially about any type of play they may be having or interested in. “Having a medical home where you can go and have non-judgemental care, is a beautiful thing, and that’s what I love most about Absolute Care,” she said. “If we don’t have someone who can answer it, we are certainly going to find out for you.”

For more information on services that Absolute Care in Atlanta provides, visit their website at absolutecare.com.

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