I want to enjoy sex!
July 12, 2006 5:24 PM   Subscribe

A question, maybe medical, maybe psychological, about gay sex & a medical condition (NSFW and gross discussion inside)

Since you're past the NSFW tag, here's the more blunt version: I'm embarrassed to get fucked because of my hemorroids.

I'm a gay man who, over the years, has steadily had a more and more difficult time (psychologically) with receptive anal sex, due to the fact that I'm terribly self-conscious about hemorroids I've had almost my entire post-pubscent life. I suffered badly from IBS as a kid. In addition to having debilitating stomach cramps because of this, it also meant that I pushed too hard, and took far too long, when having a bowel movement. One hernia operation and a bunch of hemorroids later, I've learned how to control my diet and exercise such that I stay 'regular'... But I'm pretty sure my little 'friends' back there are permanent, at this point.

I saw a doctor some years ago about them, and after a cursory examination he proclaimed them not bad enough to warrant surgery (they were entirely un-swollen at the time, which makes me wonder how he could judge?), especially given that I don't really have flareups, in the sense that I hear about on TV. They never get sore or itchy. I could get elective surgery, he said, but then followed it up with horror stories about the recovery, potential infection, and in general explaining to me why he thought I shouldn't have the surgery if I didn't need it.

Despite not getting flareups, the fact of life is they do swell up. When I have a bowel movement, yes, but also if I'm in any position that encourages my muscles to relax down there. This includes, I'll say politely, a number of sexual positions involved in foreplay as well as actual anal sex. Worse, they also tend to bleed easily -- I got used to this as a kid, but during sex, I'm terrified not just of my partner seeing the swelling back there, but also being disgusted/frightened/etc. by any blood that may show up.

I'm sorry to go into such detail, but I want to make clear the circumstances of the situation, because besides the health concerns of having receptive anal sex while bleeding, there's no medical reason why I can't enjoy being on the receiving end of anal sex. I've tried talking about it with partners, and they're mostly just confused as to why it would bother me. You'd think this would encourage me, but it mostly just makes me think I've done a good job hiding them, and if they ever saw them they'd run screaming from the bedroom. As a result, I've done it less and less, and when people ask if I want to I usually come up with some excuse why we shouldn't, while on the inside wishing desperately to say yes.

I've read every piece of medical advice online that I can on the subject of hemorroids, and I've come to the conclusion that my options are to wait for them to go away on their own, get surgery, or just live with them. Every other remedy is just voodoo. Mine have gotten neither bigger nor smaller over the years, no matter what I've done.

Does anyone have any advice on how to be less self-conscious about this? Has anyone gone through the surgery, and should I really not consider it? Do I have any options besides just getting the hell over it?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)

You might try playing with yourself, with toys of various sizes, with a mirror nearby. It might be too embarrassing to watch yourself actually do it, but take a good look at the aftermath, so you can get a realistic perspective on what your lovers are seeing down there. If they say they don't mind, and you can see what they're actually seeing instead of imagining based on sensation, perhaps that would help you relax out of self-consciousness?
posted by headspace at 5:57 PM on July 12, 2006

I think you should try to shift this into the category of cellulite, pimples on your ass, morning breath, and all of the other things that we learn about each other when we screw.

Would you even notice if a partner had hemorroids? (Do you think that none of your partners have had hemorroids, 'cause it's such a common thing, I can't imagine this to be the case.) If you were even remotely interested, would you care for more than two seconds? Would you rim him anyway?

That said, you might think about finding a doctor with whom you can discuss sexual issues.
posted by desuetude at 7:11 PM on July 12, 2006

Okay, I may be unqualified to weigh in on this for any number of reasons, but here's my thinking:

* Your doctor said they weren't that big a deal.

* Your partners don't think they're that big a deal.

* You don't have flareups in the traditional sense.

Is it possible that the situation isn't as bad as you perceive it? In other words, maybe the problem is at the other end if your body. :)
posted by j-dawg at 7:13 PM on July 12, 2006

Of course I meant the other end of your body. D'oh!
posted by j-dawg at 7:14 PM on July 12, 2006


I hestitate to write this, since I always fear that this sort of account sounds like a poker game: "I can call your hemorroids and raise you diabetes!" But here goes...

My partner has the same problem, among other things, so I empathize and sympathize with you and your potential partners. There are other things going on with my partner's health and psyche which we haven't been able to get past, sexually, but that's him (diabetes, poor self-esteem, etc) not you.

The point of this is that "just getting the hell over it" is easier said than done. If you haven't done that by now, therapy might help. But the surgery might do you more practical help.

More immediately, and easier than surgery, here's something to think about. It's important torealize that anal sex is NOT the be-all and end-all of gay sex. There's lot's of ways to have fun (as I try to tell my partner). Can you explore other sexual options, such as oral, or being an anal top, or mutual masturbation? It might do a world of good just to have some happy times that are NOT about being receptive anally, and that would help you feel good.
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:17 PM on July 12, 2006

One more thing... If you could play in other ways first, that might help you and your prospective play partners establish a level of trust. Over time, that might allow you to let down some barriers and experiment more anally. There are guys who would not be scared off by your problem, and who would be willing to work with you patiently. Not as tricks, of course, but friends, repeat fuckbuddies, whatever...
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:25 PM on July 12, 2006

Maybe the answer is to go get a second opinion from another doctor. Make an appointment for a consultation with a colo-rectal surgeon and see what s/he has to say.

In the process of googling to see if there was some sort of general colo-rectal surgery site that might provide you with names/information about doctors in your area, I found this site about modern "minimally invasive procedures." The site has plenty of faqs, testimonials and in depth information about the surgery. Use the physician locator and get yourself a second opinion. Good luck.
posted by necessitas at 8:24 PM on July 12, 2006

Was the doctor you saw previously aware of the sexual issues involved? Perhaps if it was mentioned to him (or another more sensitive doc), the benefits of surgery might begin to outweigh the risks?
posted by Rock Steady at 8:24 PM on July 12, 2006

Yeah, I too was going to observe that the doctor who said they were not particularly problematic was probably straight, and not evaluating them from the standpoint of "a penis will go here".

If you can find one, you might want to look up a specialist who is also gay, and will evaluate the issue from a different viewpoint...
posted by baylink at 8:31 PM on July 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

I am not a doctor, nor have I undergone this surgical procedure, so I'm not in a position to inform you about how great or horrible that experience might be. However, from the sound of it, your hemorroids are NOT a purely cosmetic problem! Even if you don't have "flare-ups," they are in a place on your body that makes sexual relationships both physically and psychologically uncomfortable for you. I don't call that a small issue, personally. If there was such a thing as a vaginal hemorroid that flared up during sexual intercourse to the point of bleeding and swelling, I think a doctor would be less hesitant to recommend removal. Perhaps bring up this issue with your doctor again (or a second opinion) and attempt to explain the full ramifications of this issue, if you feel comfortable enough. If your doctor still won't sign off on the surgery as necessary, perhaps think about doing research into the procedure yourself. Make sure you do plenty of research to find out what you're in for, and make an educated decision from there. You deserve to have a sex life in which you don't have to worry about this issue! Good luck.
posted by theantikitty at 8:35 PM on July 12, 2006

I'm with those above recommending getting a second opinion. If it has been a few years since your last consult then surgical techniques may well have evolved, and if you can find a doctor with whom you feel comfortable discussing the rather personal nature of your problem I would hope that they could help you to come up with a permanent solution. Good luck!
posted by persona non grata at 8:44 PM on July 12, 2006

The other option in the short term is to shrink them with a course of Anusol suppositories in the few days before you expect to get lucky. But I echo all of the above, this is worth another visit to a sympathetic surgeon and tell him exactly what you told us.
It is likely that if your partners do not notice or don't have an issue with them, they are probably not good candidates for surgery or banding, but a sympathetic surgeon will have some definitive answers for you.
You deserve to feel comfortable about your sex-life.
posted by Wilder at 6:23 AM on July 13, 2006

In ancient times (before AIDS), there was some thought that anal intercourse reduced hemoroids. Surely I have experienced that a bit of bleeding after sex was followed by a long period without anal irritation. This is purely anecdotal, of course.
posted by Goofyy at 7:34 AM on July 14, 2006

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