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Sexual Health (AMAB)

Foria's clinical team

by Foria Clinical Team

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Read our sexual health guide for people assigned male at birth (AMAB) who haven't had vaginoplasty or vulvoplasty.

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    Welcome to your customized sexual health guide! This is for anyone who was assigned male at birth (AMAB) and has not had vaginoplasty or vulvoplasty. This includes people who’ve had orchiectomy. It’s also for intersex people, if you were born with a penis.

    Whether you’re a trans woman, non-binary, or any other gender, we’ve got all the info you need for a healthy, happy sex life.

    Safer Sex

    Safer sex can mean different things to different people. In this guide, we use safer sex to mean ways to reduce risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. Anyone can get or transmit an STI, no matter what kind of sex or how many partners you have. Here are a few ways to make sex safer while still keeping it fun!


    Condoms are thin, tube-shaped pieces of latex that make a barrier between people’s genitals during sex. This stops bodily fluids and bacteria transferring from one person to another. They prevent pregnancy, most STIs and HIV.

    Condoms either go over the penis (external condoms) or inside the vagina/front hole or anus (internal condoms). External ones are a lot more common. You can also put them on sex toys, if you’re sharing them.

    Using an external condom

    You can use external condoms for oral, anal or vaginal sex. Condoms protect people against HIV and STIs, whether you’re giving or receiving.

    First, check the expiry date on the condom packet (yes, condoms expire!) and make sure it’s intact with no rips or tears. Open the packet with your hands, not teeth - this avoids damaging the condom itself. 

    Next, make sure the unrolled condom is the right way up. Then pinch the tip with one hand to squeeze out any air and, at the same time, roll the ring all the way down the shaft with your other hand. To take a condom off a penis, the wearer should move away from their partner’s body and remove it while they’re still hard. This helps avoid any fluid spilling out.

    Don’t reuse condoms. If it breaks, falls off or you want to go again, just grab a new one! It helps to keep a few around. You should also use a new condom every time you:

    • Switch partners

    • Switch between vaginal (front) and anal (back) sex

    • Share toys (e.g. dildos)

    Finding the right condom

    Condoms are usually made of latex, but can also be made of polyurethane and polyisoprene. These are useful if you’re allergic to latex. Avoid lambskin condoms - these have small holes in them, so they don’t prevent STIs and HIV.

    Condoms come in all different sizes. They even come in flavours (but these should be used for oral sex only). If you’re wearing an external condom, it should fit snugly. If it’s too tight or painful then try a bigger size, and if it’s loose then try a smaller one. 


    Whether you’re using toys, fingers or a penis, lube is a must! It can make sex easier and a lot more enjoyable. It can also prevent tears or abrasions, which raise the risk of STI transmission. Lube can be water-based, silicone-based or oil-based, but the type that’s best for you will depend on what you’re using it for. For example: 

    • Water-based lube works well with all toys and condoms. It leaves less stains compared to silicone or oil-based lube, but it can dry out faster (so you'll need to reapply). You can get flavoured water-based lubes for oral sex, but these shouldn’t be used for vaginal (front) or anal (back) sex.

    • Silicone-based lube works well with condoms and toy materials like glass or metal. It should not be used with dilators or silicone toys, as it can degrade them.

    • Oil-based lube or other oil products (like coconut oil) should not be used with condoms. It can degrade them, which makes them ineffective and raises risk for STIs. It can also be harder to clean off toys. 


    If your sex partners were born with a penis, then you might benefit from PrEP. PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, and is a medication that prevents HIV. If taken as prescribed, it reduces HIV risk by 99%. Most people take PrEP as a single daily pill.

    PrEP protects you from HIV whether you’re the insertive partner (top), receptive partner (bottom) or both (versatile). If you’re on PrEP, it means you don’t need condoms to prevent HIV during sex. PrEP doesn’t work against STIs, though. To prevent STIs you can use condoms or doxy PEP (see below). 

    You can get PrEP from most sexual health clinics that serve the LGBTQ2S+ community. You can also get it from family doctors, if they’re informed. If you are a Foria patient you can get PrEP from your clinician; another option is our sibling service Freddie, a virtual PrEP clinic. Visit for more information.

    Depending on where you live, public health plans may cover part or all of the cost of PrEP. It’s also usually covered by private insurance, if you have benefits through your employer. Freddie also offers financial assistance, so 90% of patients pay $0.

    Doxy PEP

    If your sex partners were born with a penis, then you might also benefit from doxy PEP. Doxy PEP is where you take an antibiotic called doxycycline within 72 hours (ideally within 24 hours) after condomless oral, anal or vaginal sex. This can significantly reduce the risk of syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea. It doesn’t eliminate risk though, so you’ll still need to keep up with regular STI testing.

    You should be able to get doxy PEP from sexual health clinics that serve LGBTQ2S+ people. You can also get it from family doctors. However, access can vary depending on where you live – doxy PEP is new, and not all clinics are informed. If you’re struggling to access it, Foria and Freddie can connect existing patients with doxy PEP if eligible.

    HIV Treatment

    If you’re living with HIV, starting treatment as soon as possible and taking it as prescribed has huge benefits for your health. In fact, modern HIV treatment is so effective that someone diagnosed today can live just as long as someone who doesn’t have HIV. 

    One of the main benefits of HIV treatment is that it stops HIV transmission through sex. Effective treatment can lower the amount of virus in someone’s blood so much that it wouldn’t be picked up by most HIV tests. This is called “undetectable”. When someone is undetectable, their HIV is untransmittable (known as “U=U”). 

    U=U means that you can’t pass HIV to someone else through sex. It’s not just a low or very low risk – it’s zero risk. This can help ease any anxiety you or your partners may have, so you can focus on having fun!

    STI Testing

    STIs often don’t have symptoms, so the only way to know your STI status is to get tested. STI testing can be daunting, especially if you’ve faced transphobia or other types of discrimination in healthcare before. We’re here to demystify the process. 

    This section will tell you what tests to get and how often to get them. These will vary based on the kind of sex you’re having. If your healthcare provider doesn’t offer you the tests you need, you can ask for them. 

    What tests to get

    A full routine STI test checks for syphilis, HIV, gonorrhea and chlamydia. Some parts of this test are standard for everyone:

    • To check for syphilis and HIV, you’ll get blood taken from your arm. This is then sent to a laboratory to be tested. Some clinics will have rapid HIV tests, which use a few drops of blood from your finger and can give you results in minutes.

    • To check for gonorrhea and chlamydia in your genitals, you’ll need to give a urine sample. 

    Depending on your sex life, you may also need to do some swabs. Some clinics will let you do these yourself, and others will have a provider do them for you. These are:

    • A throat swab, if you’ve performed oral sex on someone with a penis.

    • A rectal swab, if you’ve had receptive anal sex (bottomed) for someone with a penis or shared sex toys (e.g. butt plugs or dildos).

    You may also be screened for hepatitis C periodically, depending on your sex life. Unless you have symptoms, clinics don't usually test for other STIs like genital herpes (HSV) and Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

    How often to test

    If you’re starting a new monogamous relationship, then you can test after you’ve been monogamous for three months. This is because of the time it takes for an STI to be detected on a test after infection, known as the “window period”. This ranges from one to two weeks (for chlamydia) to three months (for syphilis). Testing after three months means you are outside the window period for all STIs, including HIV. Afterwards, you don’t need to test again unless you open up your relationship.

    It’s recommended that everyone should test at least once per year if you have new partners. If your partners have a penis and you use condoms, then test every three to six months. If you don’t always use condoms, then test every three months.

    If you are on PrEP, then you’ll be required to get tested every three months.

    STI Symptoms

    STIs happen sometimes! Luckily, they can often be easily treated. Because there is a stigma around STIs, if you have symptoms these may bring up feelings of shame or guilt. Stigma towards LGBTQ2S+ people and our sex lives can make these feelings more intense. This is a normal reaction, but there’s no need to feel shame!

    • Blisters, sores or firm bumps in your genital or anal area

    • Pain when peeing

    • Discharge from your genitals (this can be yellow, white or green)

    • Itching in the pubic area

    • Pain, bleeding or discharge from your anus

    • A rash

    Testicular pain can be a symptom of an STI, but it can also be a side effect of hormone therapy – if you only have testicular pain, then talk to your clinician. Some changes, like pimples in your pubic area, are usually harmless. 

    STI Treatment

    STIs can happen to anyone, no matter how many partners you have. Just like how going to a bar or using public transit carries a risk for colds or flu, sex carries a risk for STIs. What’s important is getting treatment as soon as you can to make sure that you stay healthy.

    If you have symptoms, make an appointment with your sexual health clinic or visit them in walk-in hours. Most clinics can diagnose and treat you right away. For example, if you have genital or rectal discharge they may take a urine sample, swab your urethra (penis) or swab your rectum (ass) and test these on site. They may order some additional tests to confirm your diagnosis, and will get in touch when those results come back.

    If you’ve had treatment, you’ll also need to avoid sex for a short period while the medication is working. Your healthcare provider can advise you on this.

    If you test positive for an STI, you should notify your recent partners so they can get treatment if needed. However, this may not be safe for everyone. If you don’t feel comfortable contacting them directly, you can visit This is a free, anonymous service based in the U.S. that also works in Canada. It will send a text to your partner on your behalf. Note that if your partner is only having sex with you, they will know who the message is coming from.


    Some STIs and blood-borne infections can be prevented with vaccines. These are:

    Hepatitis A & B

    These viruses affect your liver, and vaccines are recommended if your sex partners have a penis. They are usually covered in Canada for trans and non-binary people who fall into this group. Your clinician or sexual health center can check your immunity when they do blood tests, and should offer vaccines if you need them.

    Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

    This virus can cause genital warts and some types of cancer (throat, anal, cervical and penile). The HPV vaccine can protect you against the most common strains that are linked to cancers, but it can’t cure any strains that you already have. It is usually covered by the public system if you have sex with AMAB people and are under 26 years of age, but this can vary by location. If you have extended health benefits through work, this may also cover the vaccine.

    Erectile dysfunction

    If you’re taking hormone therapy, you might find it harder to get and maintain an erection. If this is bothering you, erectile dysfunction medications like Viagra (sildenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil) can help. These are safe to take with hormone therapy – just speak to your clinician first. They can interact with some drugs like blood pressure medications, and you should avoid using poppers while you take them. This combination can make your blood pressure drop dangerously low.


    If your sex partners have ovaries, then you’ll need to use contraception if you’d like to prevent pregnancy. This applies even if you are on estrogen and/or androgen blockers, or if you’re partner’s on testosterone. This is because both types of hormones can reduce fertility, but they aren’t an effective contraceptive. There are many options for contraception including condoms, IUDs and birth control pills.

    This content has been reviewed by Foria’s Medical Director, Dr. Kate Greenaway and our community advisory team.

    Foria's clinical team

    by Foria Clinical Team

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