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.

Episode 4 of The Steam Room focuses on daytime sex – a relatively common practice among the community of men who have sex with men.

What is daytime sex and how does it differ from sex at other times?

We spoke to Bruce Little, Content Creator at the Anova Health Institute, to find out what daytime sex entails. Little describes daytime sex or daytime hook-ups as a sexual practice where men who have sex with men meet up with other men during quieter times of their day, for instance during a lunch or tea break.

Men who have sex with men typically find each other via a social networking app, like Grindr, and then meet up in a public bathroom or other spaces to have sex.

Before dating apps were as widely used as they are now, gay men would often meet in areas that were known as so-called “cruising spots” where men would meet to solicit sex with other men in public spaces – this is known as “cottaging”.

The profile of the typical MSM who has daytime sex is difficult to pinpoint. While there are thrill-seekers who enjoy the risks involved with random hook-ups, there are also individuals who may be relatively averse to risks, but still engage in daytime sex.

What are the risks involved with daytime sex?

Bruce Little advises that having sex without using condoms and a water-based lubricant is always risky, no matter what time of the day or night it takes place. This is especially valid when men are having anal sex, due to the additional risks that this sexual practice carries, although having oral sex without protection still poses the risk of pharyngeal gonorrhoea, or gonorrhoea of the throat.

Daytime sex and STIs: how to protect yourself

The higher risk profile of anal sex necessitates that all men who have sex with men take extra care. This is also applicable to men who have oral sex, as this also comes with potential risks.

Men who have sex with other men are at a higher risk of HIV infection and transmission, as well as infection and transmission of other STIs like syphilis and gonorrhoea. No matter what time of day you are having sex, you should always make use of condoms and water-based lube when engaging in any kind of sexual activity.

Men who have sex with men should heed the following guidelines:

• Use condoms

In conjunction with a water-based lubricant, high-quality condoms dramatically reduce the risk of transmitting STIs. Be careful not to use oil-based lubricants, which could dissolve the condom, rendering it ineffective.

• Get tested

Men who have sex with men are at a higher risk of contracting STIs than MSW (men who have sex with women) and WSW (women who have sex with women), which is why it is highly advisable to get tested for HIV and other STIs every six months, even if you use protection.

• Be ready in the moment

A sexually active MSM should always have lubricants and condoms at hand, on the off chance that they might have a sexual encounter.

• Pay attention

Having an open and honest discussion with your partner about your status not only keeps things comfortable, it is also the responsible thing to do. Use enough lube and make sure that the condoms you are using are not damaged in any way. Certain minor things – like not brushing your teeth directly before oral sex (this can cause tiny abrasions which could be passageways for STIs) and paying attention to not aggravate any sore spots in the anal area – will also do a lot to ensure your peace of mind throughout your encounters.

• Keep track of your health

After engaging in any act of MSM, pay particular attention to your body. In the hours and days following a sexual encounter with another man, keep an eye out for any burning in the genital or anal area, or anything abnormal like rashes or fever. Should anything seem out of sorts, consult with a medical professional immediately, as it’s always better to catch things that are out of the ordinary early.

Who to contact

If you are based in Pretoria and surrounds, and would like to discreetly access healthcare services aimed specifically at men who have sex with men, you can contact OUT, a professional service organisation focusing on direct health and mental health services, research, mainstreaming and advocacy for Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people. All services are provided for free.

Daytime sex can be exciting and exhilarating to take part in, but it is important that men who have sex with men are especially careful when hooking up with people they have just met. If you are a man who has sex with other men, consider taking PrEP as a precautionary measure against HIV infection.

PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, consists of a range of antiretroviral treatments that aim to prevent infection with HIV. PrEP can be prescribed by all private practitioners and medical aids cover the costs of treatment, but should you want to acquire it anonymously, you will have to order it privately through a medical practitioner. Various NGOs also offer treatment with PrEP, free of charge.

Click on the player below to listen to our full discussion about daytime sex on Episode 4 of the Steam Room, brought to you by the National Department of Health’s Phila programme.