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Lesbian Sex
By pirateninja

Why should lesbians think about safe sex?

Generally lesbians are at low risk of HIV infection, unplanned pregnancy and becoming infected with STDs. However sex between women is not always safe, and therefore women need to know the risks and how to protect themselves.

Safer sex for lesbians and bisexual women is a way to protect yourself from contracting or transmitting sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and AIDS. But what exactly is safer sex? And how can you be sure you’re protected?

If you’re sexually active, there is no 100 percent protection against contracting a sexually transmitted infection. But there are some things you can do to make your play safer.

The best way to protect yourself from contracting a sexually transmitted disease is to keep your partner’s body fluids out of your body. These fluids include vaginal fluids, blood, menstrual blood, breast milk, and semen.

What are the risks?

-HIV - the virus that causes AIDS - is in the blood, breast milk, vaginal fluid or semen of someone with HIV, so you are at risk if you get any of these fluids in your bloodstream.

-The risks of sexually transmitting HIV between women are very low. Very few women are known to have passed HIV on to other women sexually.

-The risk of HIV being passed on through oral sex is low - but there is increased risk if a woman has cuts or sores in her mouth, or if her partner receiving oral sex has sores on her genitals or is having her period.

-Oral sex is safer if you use a 'dental dam' (a square of latex or cling film) to stop any vaginal fluid or menstrual blood getting into your mouth. A condom cut open and spread flat can also be used for this.

-Sharing sex toys (for example vibrators) can be risky if they have vaginal fluids (juice), blood or faeces on them. Always clean them well and have one each. This is one area of sex where sharing is a bad idea!

-Any sexual activity that can lead to bleeding or cuts/breaks in the lining of vagina or anus is risky, including 'fisting' or certain S&M activities.

-If you are thinking of donor insemination to get pregnant, be sure you are aware of your possible donor's detailed medical history and any possible risk factors - including drug use and sexual history. If you want to be sure, you may want to suggest your donor takes an HIV test before you go ahead.


Lesbian or bisexual women are not at high risk of becoming infected with HIV through woman to woman sex.
-Some lesbians have unsafe sex with men
-Some lesbians inject drugs and share needles
-Some lesbian sexual practices are risky
-Lesbians wanting to get pregnant face decisions about semen donors

Other Sexually transmitted Infections (STIs or STDs)

Although we have seen that lesbian and bisexual women are at low risk of getting HIV from sex with another woman, many other sexually transmitted infections - such as herpes or thrush - are just as common for lesbians as for women who have sex with men.

-Thrush is an overgrowth of yeast causing vaginal itching and soreness, often with a white discharge. It is possibly passed via sex between women, though oral sex is low risk.

-Bacterial Vaginosis/BV or Gardnerella is an overgrowth of vaginal bacteria causing a smelly discharge, which lesbians often experience. There is a possible link with perfumed soaps and bath oils.

-Genital Warts are painless bumps on the vulva, in the vagina, on the cervix or round the anus. They can be passed through contact with the wart, for example by touching, rubbing or sharing sex toys. It is unlikely non-genital warts, such as on hands, can be transferred to the genitals.

-Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) gives a frothy, itchy vaginal discharge and is passed on by contact with the vagina only, for example by touching or sharing sex toys.

-Herpes can cause painful sores on the inside of the vulva/vagina or anus (these are genital herpes) or on the mouth (cold sores). Herpes can be passed on through contact with a sore, for example by touching, fondling or sharing sex toys. Oral sex when a cold sore is present can also transmit the virus. It can be possible to have the herpes virus, be infectious and yet never have had any symptoms.

-Crabs/Pubic Lice cling to pubic and other body hair causing itching and sometimes blood spots from bites. They are spread through naked body/skin contact.

-Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are rare in lesbians but if they are present may be passed on through sharing sex toys or rubbing vulvas together. Often there are no symptoms, though there may be a discharge. The first sign of both infections may be pain in the pelvic region (pelvic inflammatory disease or PID). There is a risk of infertility for women who have had untreated chlamydia.

-Syphilis is very infectious and close skin contact during sex can pass it on.

-Hepatitis B is a viral infection that in its most infectious forms can easily be passed on in sex - for example by touching or sharing sex toys. There are often no symptoms, though it can cause jaundice (yellow skin) or nausea.

Treatment is available for all the sexually transmitted infections mentioned above, often with antibiotics, and most can be cleared up quite rapidly. It is vital you seek help as soon as you notice any symptoms and that you do not have sexual contact that could pass on any infection until it has been dealt with.

Here are some low-risk sexual activities:

-Masturbation (only touching yourself)
-Nipple and breast stimulation when not lactating
-Erotic massage
-Body rubbing
-Using a sex toy with a condom (be sure to use a new condom if sharing sex toys)
-Cunnilingus (oral sex) with a barrier, such as a glove, dental dam or plastic wrap
-Vaginal or anal contact with a latex glove

The following activities are Risky:

-Unprotected cunnilingus, especially when a woman is bleeding
-Unprotected rimming
-Sharing sex toys without a condom
-Sharing needles
-Unprotected fellatio
-Unprotected vaginal/anal intercourse

Here are some additional tips to keep yourself safe:

-Communication is the key to satisfying sex. If you don’t think you can ask for what you want, you may not be ready to have sex with that partner.
-Drugs and alcohol can impair your judgment. Have sex when you’re sober.
-For oral sex use a dental dam, glove or plastic wrap.
-Always use a condom with dildos, vibrators and butt plugs.
-Never share sex toys without cleaning them or changing the condom first.
-Do not share needles for drugs, piercing or anything else.
-Dispose of gloves, condoms and dental dams properly. Turn gloves and condoms inside out as you pull them off and drop in the trash.
-Only use dental dams, condoms and other barriers once.
-Clean your sex toys with antibacterial soap after each use.
-Use only water-based lubricants. Oil-based lube can break down latex and render it ineffective.
-Use gloves for any contact with the vagina or anus of your partner. Be sure to use a fresh glove after touching her anus.
-Never touch your partner’s anus and then touch her vagina, whether with your hand, sex toy or tongue. Wash your hands with an antibacterial soap and put a fresh condom on the sex toys.
-If your partner has an infection, yeast, bacterial or urinary tract, see a doctor.

What if we’re monogamous?

For two people who have sex exclusively with each other, here are some recommended guidelines:

-Use latex barriers every time you have sex for six months.
-After six months, both of you should be tested for STDs, such as herpes, HIV and hepatitis C. If you both test negative, and there are no other bacterial infections, such as Chlamydia, you and your partner may decide to have barrier-free sex.
-Remember this presumes that you trust your partner is truly monogamous.

General Hygiene & Disease Prevention

Watch for unpleasant odors that could be a signs of a vaginal infection and/or STI. A healthy vagina does not smell. If symptoms persist, see your doctor.

Bathroom etiquette—always wipe from front to back after urinating or defecating. This
keeps waste products and bacteria from entering the vagina and urethra thus preventing urinary and bladder infections. Avoid using harsh soaps with strong perfumes which can cause irritation in some women.

Feminine hygiene sprays can dry out mucous membranes or cause allergic reactions. You do not need to douche at all since the vagina naturally cleanses itself through small daily vaginal secretions. Commercial douches upset the delicate vaginal chemical balance which can lead to infections. If you feel that you need to douche, do not do it more than once a month. Plain tepid water is best. Avoid bulbs and syringes since water that is forced into the vagina could possibly be pushed into the uterus or the abdominal cavity and cause damage. Pregnant women should never douche.

Avoid nylon underwear and pantyhose as they do not allow the vagina to breathe. Cotton underwear are preferable.

Keep your fingernails short. Longer nails can irritate the cervix without your lover even knowing, causing a cervical abrasion which is very susceptible to infection. Bacteria can accumulate under the fingernails and can possibly lead to a vaginal infection.

Educate yourself and practice safer sex and reduce the risk of transmitting STIs, HIV/AIDS, and vaginal infections. If you are not completely sure that your lover is without infection or an STI (HIV/AIDS included) then use a latex barrier when performing oral sex, a latex glove when fingering or fisting the vagina and/or anus, thoroughly clean sex toys in between uses and partners, cover dildos with a new condom for each new user.

Safer Sex Supplies

Dental dams are 6 inches x 6 inches pieces of latex used by dentists. They are available from either your dentist, the Women’s Union, Health Services (398-6017).
Latex gloves: Latex gloves are available at Health Services, the Women’s Union, or any doctor’s office, as well as any pharmacy or medical supply store. Note that they come in big boxes only.

Condoms: Remember to only use unlubricated condoms for oral sex barriers. Lubricated condoms smell and taste awful. For heterosexual intercourse, use lubricated condoms. Less expensive condoms can be purchased at Health Services as well as the Women’s Union. Otherwise, any pharmacy or condom store will do.

Safer-sex panties: These can be made by cutting out the crotch and sewing in a piece of latex purchased from a fabric store. When using a latex barrier for oral sex, a thin layer of lubricant on the bottom side of the barrier will improve sensitivity. Always use a water-based lubricant, never Vaseline or oil which can damage the latex as well as cause an oily-build up on the skin that can become infected.

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