1. Seriously, take it seriously.
Dr. Elizabeth Boske said it best: “Lesbian safer sex is not an oxymoron.” Sexual health is important for everyone –regardless of your age, gender, or orientation.
2. Know that all sexual activities are not created equal.
Some sexual acts require a bit more flexibility than others, sure – but we’re actually talking about levels of risk when it comes to disease and infection. Activities that are considered to be lower risk include “hugging, touching, massage, and masturbation.” Many women consider sex with other women to be a “low-risk” activity, but many STDs are transferrable between two women.
3. Remember: Just because you’re not having sex with men…
…doesn’t mean you’re not having sex with men?
Some women who identify as gay or bisexual have also had sex with men at some point. So, if you or your partner have had sex with a man – especially unprotected sex – your risk for certain STDs could be comparable to that of a heterosexual woman. Thankfully, most of the common STDs are totally treatable.
4. Dental dams – they exist!
Ah, the dental dam - perhaps the world’s most misunderstood prophylactic. The attitude towards these mythical sheets of latex seems to be: No one actually uses them. But, if you’re looking to perform oral without actually exchanging bodily fluids… this would be something to consider. When it comes to HPV, which is not spread through the exchange of bodily fluids, unfortunately a sheet of latex just won’t help.
FYI: They come in flavored varieties.
Fun Fact: If you happen to have condom laying around – perhaps from another time in your life or whatever – you can use that as well!
See the steps here.
5. Never underestimate the importance of nail maintenance.
It’s not only a courtesy for your partner, it’s a safety issue. Any sexual activity that can lead to bleeding or cuts in the lining of vagina increases your risk, so keeping your nails trimmed will help avoid any unwanted (ouch) accidents.
6. Speaking of hands: Wash them before, after – wash your hands as much as you can!
7. That time of the month can increase the odds of transmitting various diseases.
Not because you’re both possibly on an emotional rollercoaster during your period, but because diseases like HIV are passed through contact with blood. If both you and your partner are tested and in the clear, there is no need to worry.
8. Sharing is caring, but not when it comes to toys.
If you use sex toys or vibrators clean them thoroughly before sharing. Alternatively, use a condom or don’t share sex toys at all. Selfish? Nope, just way safer.
9. Sexual health isn’t just about when you’re getting it on. You should always know what’s up, down there.
That not only means figuring things out on your own and knowing what your “normal” is – it means you should go to your doctor on the regular, not just when something’s wrong.
10. GTTG: Go To The Gyno
The gynecologist’s office can be a scary place for all women, but it can be all the more daunting for gay and bisexual ladies. Especially since the usual arsenal of questions are based around heterosexual sex. “This, combined with a fear of prejudice that can be intensified by these heterosexist assumptions, may make lesbians reluctant to discuss their sexual history with a physician. Even, or perhaps particularly, when that sexual history occasionally includes men,” explains Dr. Elizabeth Boskey in her essay Safer Sex For Lesbians. Have no fear, an open conversation will bring your doctor up to speed and have you checked out in no time. Be brave, it’s worth it.
11. When in doubt, stay calm and get tested.
The only way for you to know where you stand is to simply get tested. Find out where right here.
12. Let’s be honest, the best protection is having a frank and open conversation with your partner.
Even when it’s awkward/scary/weird – you’ll be happy you did.