International Women’s Day Part 3: Safe sex tips for women who have sex with women
Whether you’re a lesbian, bisexual, or straight but experimenting - it’s nobody’s business but yours. What’s also your business is your sexual health.
Sex is still sex, no matter who is having it with whom. Sure, some activities like hugging, kissing are low-risk compared to others like oral or vaginal sex. But the only difference between women having sex with women and women having sex with men is the risk of unwanted pregnancies, and that is also dependant on genitalia and sexual organs - not the gender one may identify as.
Whether you’re a lesbian, a bisexual woman, or straight but experimenting - it’s nobody’s business but yours. What’s also your business is your sexual health. And not having sex with a man doesn’t reduce the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STDs) or infection. In fact, the chances of you getting bacterial vaginosis (not an STD but it increases your risk of getting one) increase substantially.
For International Women’s Day, we’re touching on some of the health issues that affect women in a dedicated series. In this part, we’ll be addressing how women can have safe (or safer) sex when they have sex with another woman.
1. Have the talk
It really does not matter if it’s only a one-night stand or a long-term relationship - talking about each other’s sexual history is essential for having safe sex. It’s completely acceptable to ask your partner when they were last tested for STDs, whether they’ve ever had any previously, and if yes, were they treated for it. Similarly, share the details about your sexual health as well. If either of you hasn’t been tested recently, it’s also alright to hold off on sexual activity until you do - especially if you’ve been sexually active since your last screening.
2. Always use protection
When you engage in any sexual activity that involves body fluids — whether one person’s or both — you should ideally use a barrier method of protection, especially if you have a cut or sore. Also, since we know STDs are transmitted through body fluids, this makes your period a riskier time to have sex than the rest of the month. Here are some types of protection women can use when having sex with other women:
- Condoms: If your partner is a transwoman and has a penis, female or male condoms should be used for vaginal and anal intercourse. Make sure the condom is not expired, applied correctly and only use one at a time. Ensure that you use a new condom for every sexual activity - for example, if you’re switching between oral, vaginal and anal sex, you need to use a new condom for each of them. Also, if you’re sharing sex toys, put a condom on those too.
- Dental dams: Dental dams should be used when you’re giving oral sex to a woman. A dental dam is a sheet of latex that works as a barrier to avoid the transfer of body fluids. You can also use a dental dam while scissoring as that is one of the most high-risk sexual activities.
- Gloves and finger cots: Stimulating someone’s genitals with your hand is considered to be one of the safer sexual activities. It still carries some risk though, since your hands could have a small, unnoticeable cut on them and when it comes in contact with body fluids a transmission could occur both ways. To avoid this, you can use latex gloves or finger cots.
3. Get tested regularly
Ignorance is not bliss, especially when it comes to your sexual health. If you’re sexually active, it’s a good idea to get tested every year. If you have multiple partners or aren’t engaging in safe sex, you may want to get tested more often. It’s also good practice to get tested before you start having sex with a new partner. If you notice any symptoms, avoid having sex until you consult a doctor. Also, doctors may advise you not to engage in sexual activity for a certain amount of time after being treated for an STD, as you could still be capable of transmitting the disease.
If you haven’t been sexually active in a while, you should still not ignore any symptoms. Many STDs don’t show up immediately - they could take their own sweet time and show up when you’re not sexually active.
If you have a lifelong STD (like herpes or HIV), there are ways to still be sexually active in a safe manner. Talk to your partner and your doctor about your options and be extremely careful when following those instructions to a T.
4. Maintain good hygiene
Hygiene is another important factor when it comes to having safer safe.
- Maintaining clean and tidy nails isn’t a vain practice but a must when you’re using your hands for genital stimulation. Keep your nails short and hands clean. Wash your hand before engaging in sexual activity as you could have bacteria that you could transfer - or even spices that could burn.
- Pee after sex: Women are advised to pee after sex to avoid urinary tract infections. You should follow this as a rule if you’re more prone to these infections.
- Sex toys: Always clean your sex toys after and before using them. Do not share your sex toys and if you do, make sure you use protection.
Lubricants aren’t just to increase pleasure - though they sure can do that too. No, the main use of a lubricant is to make the sex a little bit slicker so everything moves smoothly and you don’t end up getting a cut or tear because of the friction. It’s especially useful when you’re using protection (like when you use finger cots or on both sides of a dental dam during scissoring) - just make sure you use an appropriate one. For example, don’t use a silicone-based lubricant with sex toys made of silicone, don’t use a water-based lubricant in water as it’ll wash off, and don’t use an oil-based lubricant with latex condoms as it could lead to a tear in the condom.
For more articles like this, visit our section on Women’s Health.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
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