Being a gay man and finding a doctor can be hard.

Many doctors know little about the ins and outs of being a gay man. Some are dismissive and some are downright rude.

When choosing a doctor, I have three criteria:

1. Does this doctor leave me feeling like I have been listened to?

2. Do I feel like they ‘know their stuff’?

3. Does this doctor have a good network of other doctors should I need specialist care?

Gay men have different health needs from their straight counterparts, particularly when it comes to sexual health.

Gay men are at higher risks for cancers of the throat, mouth and ass. We have higher risks for depression and suicide. Lifestyle issues can make prescribing some medications more tricky than with other men.

It’s worth considering having a gay doctor, as they usually have a vested interest in knowing all about the health of men who have sex with men. There are some excellent straight doctors but

I like them to be clued in on the health issues I worry about.

How do you find your perfect doctor?

Ask mates, “Do you know of any good doctors in the area?” or “Are you happy with your current doctor? Can you recommend anyone for me?”

Word of mouth is an excellent way of finding a great doctor. While some doctors have closed books, never overlook doctors who are new to town working in the same group practice.

Often I will make a check-up appointment and get a feel for the doctor. Let it all hang out. The doctor is there to help you obtain optimal health — without knowing the full story, this can be difficult.

If I don’t feel comfortable, I mentally note that this person is not the doctor for me and move forward.

Get to know the doctors at your local gay and lesbian health service. Most major cities will have at least one. If they are not listed in Google, they will usually advertise in the gay press.

Chat to doctors at your local sexual health clinic. They will normally know which family doctors are competent and working with a large number of gay patients.

If you are living in a smaller community, finding a good doctor can be hard. Look around to find someone you fit best with but don’t be afraid to look at other cities in your area if you’re not happy locally.

Having a ‘partner in health’ you feel safe and confident with is worth the effort.

INFO: Read more at www.thehealthybear.com

By DR GEORGE FORGAN-SMITH

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