Gay sexual practices

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This article is about sexual practices between males. For sexual practices between females, see Lesbian sexual practices.
19th-century erotic interpretation of Hadrian and Antinous (detail), by Paul Avril

Gay sexual practices are sexual activities involving men who have sex with men (MSM), regardless of their sexual orientation or sexual identity. The authors of the Kinsey Reports state that 37% of their male subjects had at least one homosexual experience.[1] Evidence shows that sex between men is significantly underreported in surveys due to social desirability bias.[2][3]


Frot: two men rubbing their penises together

MSM may engage in anal sex, in which case the insertive partner may be referred to as the top, the one being penetrated may be referred to as the bottom, and those who enjoy either role may be referred to as versatile.[4] Pleasure, pain, or both may accompany anal sex. While the nerve endings in the anus can provide pleasurable feelings, an orgasm may be achieved through receptive anal penetration by indirect stimulation of the prostate.[5][6][7] A study by the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB) indicated that men who self-report taking a receptive position during anal sex in their last encounter were at least as likely to have reached orgasm as men who adopted an insertive role.[8] A study sampling single people in the U.S. indicated that orgasm rates are similar among men across sexual orientations.[9] With regard to pain or being uncomfortable during anal sex,[10][11] some research indicates that, for 24% to 61% of gay or bisexual men, painful receptive anal sex (known as anodyspareunia) is a frequent lifetime sexual difficultly.[11]

Historically, anal sex has been popularly associated with male homosexuality and MSM. However, many MSM do not engage in anal sex, and may engage in oral sex, frottage or frot, or mutual masturbation instead.[12][13][14][15] MSM may also engage in different forms of oral sex, such as fellatio, tea bagging, and anilingus. Wellings et al. reported that "the equation of 'homosexual' with 'anal' sex among men is common among lay and health professionals alike," whereas an online survey of 18,000 MSM in Europe "showed that oral sex was most commonly practised, followed by mutual masturbation, with anal intercourse in third place."[12] A 2011 survey by The Journal of Sexual Medicine found similar results for U.S. gay and bisexual men. Kissing a partner on the mouth (74.5%), oral sex (72.7%), and partnered masturbation (68.4%) were the three most common behaviors, with 63.2% of the sample self-reporting 5-9 different sexual behaviors during their last encounter.[16]

Reports with regard to the prevalence of anal sex among MSM have varied over time, with some percentages higher than others.[17][18][4][19] A large percentage of gay and bisexual men self-report lifetime participation in anal sex.[4] Studies among gay men have indicated that percentages are similar when comparing men who prefer to penetrate their partners to those who prefer to be the receptive partner.[4][20] Some men who have sex with men, however, believe that being a receptive partner during anal sex questions their masculinity.[21][22]

With regard to non-penetrative sex, there is also variety. Frot is a form of male-male sexual activity that usually involves direct penis-to-penis contact.[23][24] It is a form of frottage. Frot can be enjoyable because it mutually and simultaneously stimulates the genitals of both partners as it tends to produce pleasurable friction against the frenulum nerve bundle on the underside of each man's penile shaft, just below the urinary opening (meatus) of the penis head (glans penis). Intercrural sex is another form of non-penetrative sex that can be practiced between MSM. Docking (the insertion of one man's penis into another man's foreskin) is also practiced.

MSM may engage in BDSM or use sex toys. A study done from 2001 to 2002 in Australia found that 4.4% of gay men and 14.2% of bisexual men participated in BDSM-related sexual activities in the 12 months prior to the survey.[25] A non-representative survey on the sexual behavior of American students published in 1997 and based on questionnaires found 24% of the gay and bisexual men had experience with spanking as a sexual practice.[26] Among medicine students in North America, 6% of gay men and 17% of bisexual men reported ever receiving pain for sexual pleasure, and 5% of gay men and 9% of bisexual men reported inflicting pain for this purpose.[20] According to an online survey of over 25,000 men who self-report a homosexual or bisexual orientation, 49.8% have ever used vibrators. Most men who had used a vibrator in the past reported use during masturbation (86.2%). When used during partnered interactions, vibrators were incorporated into foreplay (65.9%) and intercourse (59.4%).[27]

Health risks[edit]

A 2007 study reported that two large population surveys found "the majority of gay men had similar numbers of unprotected sexual partners annually as straight men and women."[28][29]

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).[30][31][32] Worldwide, an estimated 5–10% of HIV infections are the result of men having sex with men.[33] However, in most of the Western world, more HIV infections are transmitted by men having sex with men than by any other transmission route.[34] In the United States, "men who have had sex with men since 1977 have an HIV prevalence (the total number of cases of a disease that are present in a population at a specific point in time) 60 times higher than the general population".[35]

Syphilis is passed from person to person through direct contact with a syphilis sore; mainly on the external genitals, the vagina, or anus.[36] In 2006, 64% of the reported cases in the United States were among men who have sex with men.[36] This is consistent with a rise in the incidence of syphilis among MSM in other developed nations, attributed to increased rates of sex without a condom among MSM.[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, p. 656
  2. ^ Turner CF, Ku L, Rogers SM, Lindberg LD, Pleck JH, Sonenstein FL (May 1998). "Adolescent sexual behavior, drug use, and violence: increased reporting with computer survey technology". Science 280 (5365): 867–73. doi:10.1126/science.280.5365.867. PMID 9572724. 
  3. ^ Katherine B. Coffman; Lucas C. Coffman; Keith M. Marzilli Ericson (2013). The Size of the LGBT Population and the Magnitude of Anti-Gay Sentiment are Substantially Underestimated (Report). 
  4. ^ a b c d Steven Gregory Underwood (2003). Gay Men and Anal Eroticism: Tops, Bottoms, and Versatiles. Harrington Park Press. ISBN 978-1-56023-375-6. Retrieved February 12, 2011. 
  5. ^ "The male hot spot — Massaging the prostate". Go Ask Alice!. Apr 1, 2011. Retrieved April 21, 2010. 
  6. ^ Rosenthal, Martha (2012). Human Sexuality: From Cells to Society. Cengage Learning. pp. 133–135. ISBN 0618755713. Retrieved September 17, 2012. 
  7. ^ Komisaruk, Barry R.; Whipple, Beverly; Nasserzadeh, Sara and Beyer-Flores, Carlos (2009). The Orgasm Answer Guide. JHU Press. pp. 108–109. ISBN 0-8018-9396-8. Retrieved November 6, 2011. 
  8. ^ Mona Chalabi (20 August 2015). "The Gender Orgasm Gap". FiveThirtyEight. 
  9. ^ "Variation in Orgasm Occurrence by Sexual Orientation in a Sample of U.S. Singles". The Journal of Sexual Medicine 11 (11). 2014. doi:10.1111/jsm.12669. 
  10. ^ "Pain from anal sex, and how to prevent it". Go Ask Alice!. June 26, 2009. Retrieved April 7, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Joel J. Heidelbaugh (2007). Clinical men's health: evidence in practice. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 273. ISBN 978-1-4160-3000-3. Retrieved October 14, 2011. 
  12. ^ a b Kaye Wellings, Kirstin Mitchell, Martine Collumbien (2012). Sexual Health: A Public Health Perspective. McGraw-Hill International. p. 91. ISBN 0335244815. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Not all gay men have anal sex". Go Ask Alice!. June 13, 2008. Retrieved August 19, 2015. 
  14. ^ Goldstone, Stephen E.; Welton, Mark L. (2004). "Sexually Transmitted Diseases of the Colon, Rectum, and Anus". Clin Colon Rectal Surg 17 (4): 235–239. PMC 2780055. PMID 20011265. 
  15. ^ Edwin Clark Johnson, Toby Johnson (2008). Gay Perspective: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God & the Universe. Lethe Press. p. 139. ISBN 978-1-59021-015-4. Retrieved February 12, 2011. 
  16. ^ Sexual Behaviors and Situational Characteristics of Most Recent Male-Partnered Sexual Event among Gay and Bisexually Identified Men in the United States Retrieved 2-13-2014
  17. ^ Laumann, E., Gagnon, J.H., Michael, R.T., and Michaels, S. The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States. 1994. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (Also reported in the companion volume, Michael et al., Sex in America: A Definitive Survey, 1994).
  18. ^ Center for Disease Control, Increases in Unsafe Sex and Rectal Gonorrhea Among Men Who Have Sex With Men – San Francisco, California, 1994–1997[1]. Retrieved April 29, 2007.
  19. ^ "Anal Sex Safety and Health Concerns". WebMD. Retrieved August 19, 2013. 
  20. ^ a b "The Impact of Sexual Orientation on Sexuality and Sexual Practices in North American Medical Students". Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2010. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.01794. 
  21. ^ John H. Harvey, Amy Wenzel, Susan Sprecher (2004). The handbook of sexuality in close relationships. Routledge. pp. 355–356. ISBN 0805845488. Retrieved March 12, 2011. 
  22. ^ Odets, Walt (1995). In the Shadow of the Epidemic: Being Hiv-negative in the Age of AIDS. Duke University Press. pp. 191–192. ISBN 0822316382. Retrieved July 6, 2013. 
  23. ^ Joe Perez (2006). Rising Up. pp. 190–192. ISBN 1411691733. Retrieved March 24, 2011. 
  24. ^ "The New Sex Police". The Advocate. 2005-04-12. pp. 39–40, 42. Retrieved February 12, 2011. 
  25. ^ Richters, J., De Visser, R. O., Rissel, C. E., Grulich, A. E., & Smith, A. (2008). Demographic and psychosocial features of participants in bondage and discipline, "Sadomasochism" or Dominance and Submission (BDSM): Data from a National Survey. The journal of sexual medicine, 5(7), 1660–1668.
  26. ^ Elliott, Leland / Brantley, Cynthia, Sex on Campus, 1997, Random House, New York
  27. ^ "Characteristics of vibrator use by gay and bisexually identified men in the United States". The Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2010. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.01873. 
  28. ^ "Sexual Behavior Does Not Explain Varying HIV Rates Among Gay And Straight Men - Medical News Today". Retrieved February 10, 2015. 
  29. ^ Goodreau SM, Golden MR (October 2007). "Biological and demographic causes of high HIV and sexually transmitted disease prevalence in men who have sex with men". Sex Transm Infect 83 (6): 458–462. doi:10.1136/sti.2007.025627. PMC 2598698. PMID 17855487. 
  30. ^ Sepkowitz KA (June 2001). "AIDS—the first 20 years". N. Engl. J. Med. 344 (23): 1764–1772. doi:10.1056/NEJM200106073442306. PMID 11396444. 
  31. ^ Weiss RA (May 1993). "How does HIV cause AIDS?". Science 260 (5112): 1273–1279. doi:10.1126/science.8493571. PMID 8493571. 
  32. ^ Cecil, Russell (1988). Textbook of Medicine. Philadelphia: Saunders. pp. 1523, 1799. ISBN 0-7216-1848-0. 
  33. ^ "Men who have sex with men (MSM) and HIV/AIDS | AVERT". Retrieved February 10, 2015. 
  34. ^ "2009 AIDS epidemic update". Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and World Health Organization. November 2009. Retrieved September 28, 2011. 
  35. ^ Consumer Affairs Branch (CBER) (2013-03-18). "Blood Donations from Men Who Have Sex with Other Men Questions and Answers". Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  36. ^ a b Syphilis & MSM (Men Who Have Sex With Men) – CDC Fact Sheet, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  37. ^ M Hourihan, H Wheeler, R Houghton, B T Goh (2004). "Lessons from the syphilis outbreak in homosexual men in east London". Sex Transm Infect 80 (6): 509–511. doi:10.1136/sti.2004.011023. PMC 1744940. PMID 15572625.