PrEP : Effects on Sexual Activity

If you take PrEP before you are exposed to the HIV virus, the drug should block HIV from entering your body. PrEP has many effects on the sexual activity of many people. Read on for some more information! 

PrEP Effects on Sexual Activity

Effects Of PrEP On Sexual Activity 

PrEP (see also ‘How Much Does PrEP Cost?‘) has many effects on sexual activity. PrEP gives people a lot more confidence to feel like they are engaging in safe sexual practices.

HIV is a big concern for gay men when they are having sex, and so having PrEP gives them the confidence to feel safe. In a study, gay men have been found to be less anxious because they are taking PrEP (see also ‘PrEP: Can You Buy It Over The Counter?‘).

There have been lots of studies done on the effects that PrEP has on sexual activity. These studies have found the following: 

  • Often, those who have a higher risk of contracting HIV suffer more from poor mental health. This is due to the concern of contracting HIV alongside other stressors that are usually linked to gender, sexual or racial minorities. Studies have shown that those who have been given the opportunity to take PrEP experience improvements in their mental health. This will lead to higher sex drive in many. 
  • These improvements in mental health are mostly anxiety related, as the medication removes any concern about contracting HIV. 
  • In contrast to this, taking PrEP can bring some anxieties, such as the stigma of being promiscuous or concern about the possible side effects. However, these factors are usually outweighed by the pros.
  • Because of the protection PrEP provides, it has a positive effect on sexual activity for those who are HIV positive. It breaks down the stigma for those who have it as it allows them to have a sex life where no one is concerned about contracting or transmitting HIV.

Sexual anxiety decreases in gay men who are taking PrEP (see also ‘Do You Need To Take Prep When Your Partner Is Undetectable?‘) and PrEP has been found to start a movement of sex without fear in the community.

Side Effects Of PrEP

Most people who take PrEP have very few if any side effects. Most of the side effects experienced tend to go away very quickly. Some minor side effects of taking PrEP include weight loss, abdominal pain, headaches and nausea.

However, these side effects usually go away over a short period of time and they are not bad enough to stop taking PrEP.

In very rare cases, PrEP can cause some more serious side effects which may result in the need to stop taking the medication. Some of these very rare side effects are liver problems, bone pain, immune system changes, and thinning bones.

What Are The Two Types Of PrEP? 

In the US, there are two approved PrEP medications. These are called Truvada and Descovy. 

Truvada contains emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. This medication is available in different strengths. You take it in the form of a tablet once a day and it is suitable for men and women.

Descovy is taken every day, however, it is not suitable for females as it has not been adequately tested in that area.

Pros And Cons Of Using PrEP

There are many different pros and cons to using PrEP. 

Pros 

  • The medication is effective when it comes to preventing HIV cases. This is when it is being taken regularly and correctly. 
  • Taking this medication protects you and your partners from any transmission of the virus. 
  • It is very convenient to use and very effective. You simply need to take one pill per day. 
  • It is very discreet as it comes in tablet form. It also allows you individual control of prevention of the transmission.
  • This is a great option for people who are hoping to have a baby where one member of the partnership is HIV+

Cons 

  • These medications can be very expensive. You should try to get these medications through your insurance if you have any. 
  • You must remember to take it every day or it will not be effective. 
  • You will have to have an HIV test at least once every 3 months. 
  • There are certain side effects associated with the medication. 
  • If you have a history of hepatitis B or kidney problems, it may not be right for you.

Is It Safe To Take PrEP?

Truvada and Descovy are very safe and, in general, there is absolutely nothing to worry about when it comes to the safety of this medication. However, like anything, there are some side effects so you should be careful. 

Before you start taking PrEP, it is a very good idea to talk to your healthcare provider to ensure that you will benefit from taking this medication.

This will also give the doctor a chance to check you over to ensure that you are able to safely take it. Make sure that you tell your doctor of any medical history in case this interferes with the medication.

You should not take this medication if you have HIV as this will make the drug resistant to the virus. You will need to have a blood test done before you start taking PrEP and every 3 months while you are taking it.

How To Talk About PrEP

It is quite difficult to go to your healthcare provider and discuss the steps for HIV protection, however, it is important to try and break down the stigma that is associated with the virus.

You should write down any questions you might have about HIV and your risk of contracting it before you go to see your doctor.

You should be open about your experiences, medical history, and concerns about HIV so that you can feel more comfortable that you are making the right choice by taking PrEP.

Final Thoughts 

PrEP does have lots of effects on sexual activity because it directly affects the way in which you can have sex. When you remove the fear of contracting HIV, your sexual activity is bound to change due to the relief of anxiety that will occur.

Joshua Damie
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