As sexually active gay men, bodily fluids and nudity are part of our playground. We know that occasionally s**t happens, fingers get inserted into pleasure zones, and in anonymous sexual situations, we’re touched by strangers.

Yet when we isolate those events and see them in a medical context, we get all prissy and embarrassed about it. With that attitude, I’m aware that many men won’t willingly take part in medical testing procedures that could well save their lives. It’s time to get over that attitude and get tested.

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Firstly, I recently needed to have a testicular ultra-sound procedure. And yes, all those obvious shallow questions went through my head – do I need to shave my balls, will I get a male or female attendant, will I get an erection, and will a positive result end my sex life.

It was a relief to discover a handsome just-out-of-university male was doing my procedure. However, with the first squirt of cold lube on the scrotum, all sexual thoughts left my body. I settled back to enjoy the ten-minute procedure – a bit like a massage but limited in scope. My happy ending was the negative result my doctor received.

Secondly, I did the free National Bowel Cancer Screening Program test. If you’re between 50 and 74, it will automatically arrive in the mail. Please don’t put it in the drawer or the bin – it’s just mind-over-matter about doing the test. It’s two toilet visits, two scrapes of your collected poo, place the dipstick into the vial, fill out a short form and post back – it’s simple, with results sent to your doctor and yourself.

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Thirdly, there’s the prostate health test. Thanks to an era of comedians, that gloved finger-up-the-bum image usually comes immediately to mind. Fingers are smaller than penises, so ignore thoughts of pain or discomfort. PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood tests are also used in diagnoses. Sadly, over 3,300 Australian men die from prostate cancer, with 21,000 new cases diagnosed annually. *

As older males, we need to ask for, and willingly take part in, these screening tests irrespective of what our mind tells us about potential ickiness or embarrassment. Get over your hesitations and do something beneficial for your health.

Get peace of mind from negative results or let early detection provide early treatment options. You can’t lose either way.

*Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council

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