Sexual health advice for lesbians is often hard to come by in the UK. Predictably there is more available for gay men, which means that many women could be taking unnecessary risks when it comes to sexual relations with other women.
Unfortunately, many lesbians and bisexual women are unaware that they need to be as sexually healthy as gay men or their straight counterparts and are potentially putting themselves at risk from a number of STIs including chlamydia, cystitis and, as was proved in a recent case in the US, HIV.
It’s a myth that women can’t contract any STIs at all by having sex with other women and until more research is done into this, it is every woman’s responsibility to take care of their sexual health for the sake of themselves and others. Erring on the side of caution takes little time and could potentially be a lifesaver.
There are a number of key points that you should always keep in mind, whether you are in a long-term relationship or having a casual affair with someone. They are relatively simple points, but could make all the difference when it comes to your sexual health.
1. Always wash your hands before having sex, even if you don’t use your fingers for penetrative sex, you can still increase risk of cystitis, which, if left untreated, can lead to infertility.
2. When washing hands, avoid using scented soaps or hand washes, as these will cause an imbalance in the body’s natural balance – heightening the risk of contracting thrush.
3. Don’t have penetrative sex if you need to go to the toilet, as you could push bacteria back into the urethra causing cystitis or thrush.
4. When using a strap on or a dildo, always use a condom to protect against unwanted transmission of STIs. That way, you know that when you share toys, there can be little or no risk of passing anything on.
5. When choosing a condom, go for those that aren’t treated with spermicidal cream as they are less likely to upset the natural ‘good’ bacteria in the vagina.
6. Always try to use lube with either toys or fingers, as vaginal dryness can increase the risk of exposure to STIs.
7. Dental dams should be used during oral sex, particularly if the recipient has her period. STIs can be transmitted through blood and this risk is increased if the other person has gingivitis (bleeding gums) or cold sores.
8. If you do not have a dental dam to hand, cut the top off a condom, cut through one side and open out to form a square sheet of latex.
9. Anal sex, either with fingers or toys, should never precede vaginal sex, as there is a large chance that bacteria will be transferred from the anus to the vagina.
10. If you are bisexual, always ensure you practice safe sex with men.