[The Steam Room] - Ep. 5 - Chemsex

The Steam Room is broadcast on GaySA Radio every Wednesday from 19:00 to 21:00, and is brought to you by the National Department of Health’s Phila programme.
The Phila programme encourages all South Africans to be inspired to live, and is about keeping fit, knowing about your health and body, eating well and taking action about your health in general.
In episode 5 of The Steam Room we talk about a controversial topic in the community of men who have sex with men: chemsex.
What is chemsex?
Chemsex is sex that happens between men while under the influence of illegal substances. These substances may include things like marijuana, Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, commonly known as ecstacy), crystal methamphetamine (crystal meth), gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB, also referred to as “G”) and methcathinone (commonly known as CAT), among others. Another legal substance that may be used is a class of alkyl nitrites that is inhaled, commonly referred to as poppers.
In the gay subculture, chemsex sometimes forms a part of a hook-up where the purpose is to take drugs with the intention of having sex. On dating apps like Grindr, men who want to engage in chemsex refer to it as “chemfun” or “party and play”.
Bruce Little, Content Creator at the Anova Health Institute, says that there are numerous reasons why men may want to engage in chemsex, including low self-esteem or other insecurities. Taking substances makes them feel more confident and takes away their inhibitions. Other men may feel that it enhances their sexual experience or allows them to engage in sexual activity for longer.
Juan Nel says that chemsex has become a part of the gay subculture, as a result of the underground gay culture of the past. Substances are often used by men who have sex with men to disinhibit themselves or to maximise the experience of sex. This can become a problem when the substance does not provide the same high as it used to, and a user needs a larger amount to enjoy the same experience as before.
Poppers are often the first substance that men who have sex with men encounter. Even when using poppers, users should be aware that the long-term effects are inconclusive, and take care when using poppers on the long-term.
What are the health implications of chemsex?
The disinhibition people experience when engaging in chemsex means that they often don’t take as much care to protect themselves during sex. In addition, there may be ...