According to the CDC, lesbians are the least likely group to get STDs. However, just because it's unlikely, doesn't mean it's impossible.
Lesbi-honest, if you asked a woman who has sex with other women about what they do to protect themselves from STDs, you’re most likely to get “uh…” as an answer.
Most lesbians seem to think that they don’t have to worry about safe sex practices since there’s no need to worry about unplanned pregnancy. This, along with the fact that in comparison to straight couples or men who have sex with men, the risks of contracting STDs are considerably lower for women who have sex with women.
However, statistics show that at least 75% of women who identify as lesbians have had sexual intercourse with men and around two-thirds of the time, those women were engaging in unprotected sex. So much for lesbian sex being pretty safe, right?
The good news is that there is a person who can protect you from these lesbian STDs—you. With a bit of self-awareness and common sense, you can significantly reduce your chances of catching one of these annoying wee beasties.
What diseases could you catch (depending on what kind of sex you have)?
- Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
- Hepatitis B
- Herpes (genital)
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV, Genital Warts)
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
- Pubic Lice (Crabs)
This list isn't complete, but it should give you an idea about what's possible.
What can you do to prevent STDs?
- Use barriers, such as dental dams, saran wrap, or slit open condoms, for oral-vaginal and oral-anal contact.
- Use gloves when inserting fingers into the vagina or rectum.
- Wash your hands well, including under the fingernails before having sex - even if gloves are going to be used.
- Clean sex toys before use.
- Put condoms on insertable sex toys and changing the condom for each partner.
- Get a Pap test. The Pap test finds changes in your cervix early, so you can be treated before a problem becomes serious. Begin getting Pap tests at age 21. In your 20s, get a Pap test every two years. Women 30 and older should get a Pap test every three years. If you are HIV-positive, your doctor may recommend more frequent testing.
- Get an HPV test. Combined with a Pap test, an HPV test helps prevent cervical cancer. It can detect the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer. Talk to your doctor about an HPV test if you've had an abnormal Pap or if you're 30 or older.
- Talk to your doctor or nurse about other screening tests you may need. You need regular preventive screenings to stay healthy. Lesbian and bisexual women need all the same tests that heterosexual women do.
Note: Condoms should also be changed when moving a toy from the vagina to the rectum or vice versa.
Apicha CHC's providers are well-versed and knowledgeable in women's health services. If you’re interested in learning more about the risks or want to come in for a PAP test or STD screening, schedule your primary care appointment with Apicha CHC today by clicking here!