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How to Enjoy Safe Lesbian Sex

We don't want to sound like a broken record but...practicing safe sex is crucial. The reality is any type of sex, regardless of your sexuality, automatically puts you at risk for sexually transmitted infections. Sometimes, there is a misconception that sex between two women carries a lower risk of STIs, which is definitely not the case. Buckle up because we’re going to be getting into all the nitty-gritty details of lesbian sex, and how you can make sure you’re being as safe as possible!

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How to Enjoy Safe Lesbian Sex

16 July 2021

So, what exactly is safe sex? 

Safe sex just means that both you and your partner are taking all the necessary precautions to prevent either person from getting an STI or an unplanned pregnancy. Not only is this important for your health, but it can also make having sex better! The last thing you want is to get an infection that’s either going to cause pain or make sex less enjoyable. 

The other thing to note is that sex doesn’t automatically mean penetration. There are so many different forms, and each one carries a different risk of getting an STI. And yes, STIs can spread even without having vaginal sex. They can spread through skin-to skin contact in the genital area, through bodily fluids, and through the sharing of sex toys. What might be even more shocking to you is that STIs don’t only exist in the genital area. Someone can have a mouth and throat infection, or a vaginal infection, or both at the same time. 

As a general rule of thumb, the best way to protect yourself is to discuss getting tested for STIs with your partner. There’s a common presumption that people who have multiple sexual partners are more likely to get STIs. While this is true due to the simple fact that they are exposing themselves to more people, it does not mean that someone who has had sex only once cannot have gotten an STI. This is why it’s extremely important to have a conversation with your partner, regardless of sexuality, before getting intimate with them. 

Now, let’s get into more of the specifics. Different types of sex, like oral sex, scissoring, strap-ons, and fingering, can carry different risks of STIs, so let’s talk about them. 

Oral sex

The definition of oral sex is the use of one partner’s mouth or tongue to stimulate the other partner’s genital areas. Like we mentioned before, this means that one partner could transmit their mouth infection to the other partner or the other partner could transmit their genital infection. Some of the common STIs that are transmitted this way include HPV, herpes, trichomoniasis, and gonorrhea. The best way to protect yourself is to use a dental dam. WTH is a dental dam?! Like a condom, it’s a sheet made of latex that you can use to cover the vulva and vagina or the anus during oral sex. If you don’t have a dental dam, you can use a regular condom by cutting off the “ring” and turning it into a sheet. If you choose this option, make sure the condom does not have spermicide, as it’s dangerous to ingest that.

Scissoring

Scissoring involves the rubbing of two vulvas against each other, sometimes known as tribbing. The risk here is two-fold because there’s direct skin-to-skin contact between two vulvas and there’s the possibility of fluids being transferred from one partner to the other. Common STIs that spread through skin-to-skin contact are HPV and HSV and common STIs that spread through fluids are herpes (HSV), genital warts (HPV), gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, and chlamydia. In order to protect both partners, you can place a dental dam on each vulva which can be held in place by one or both partners.

Strap Ons

It’s common to use sex toys during sex, and this is especially more common for lesbian partners. And while a strap-on is a foreign-object, it’s a great idea to still put a condom on it, especially if both partners are sharing the same one. STIs don’t last very long on surfaces or objects, but when used back-to-back, there’s a high chance that one partner’s bodily fluids have been left behind on the strap-on. It’s also important to know that in addition to STIs, using and sharing strap-ons can potentially lead to bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, and UTIs. If the strap-on is used for anal penetration, then it also raises the risk of additional infections like HSV (herpes) and HPV (genital warts). Some of the possible but less common infections are Hepatitis B & C. 

The material of the strap-on also matters. Porous materials like latex, polyvinyl chloride, jelly rubber, thermoplastic rubber, and thermoplastic elastomer all have tiny, microscopic holes that can harbor bacteria even after you think you have cleaned them. What this means is that if you have recently recovered from an STI and go on to use the same strap-on, you may get re-infected. If you know you’re using a porous strap-on, definitely put a condom on it. If not, it’s better to opt for strap ons made with materials like silicone, glass, pyrex, or even stainless steel. 

Fingering

Everything we’ve mentioned above also applies to fingering! At the end of the day, your fingers are still foreign objects and can harbor a significant amount of bacteria. While fingering does not carry as a great a risk of STIs as other forms of sex, if your fingers have cuts or sores, there is still a chance of transmission. If you want to be extra protective, some medical experts suggest wearing surgical gloves. 

Throughout this article, we’ve been using the term STI. But, you might be wondering what’s the difference between an STI and an STD? STI stands for sexually transmitted infection while STD stands for sexually transmitted disease. All STDs begin as infections, but not all STIs become STDs. An infection is the result of a foreign viral or bacterial pathogen entering your body. When that pathogen begins damaging cells and causing symptoms, it becomes classified as an STD. For example, HPV is the most common STI that develops into an STD and is also the leading cause of cervical cancer.

Now that we have that covered, let’s talk about how you can tell if you have an STI. Not all STIs show symptoms, but if they do, here are some of the ones to be watchful of:

  • Painful or burning sensation during urination
  • Painful sensation during vaginal or anal penetration
  • Itchy sensation around the genital area
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the groin and neck area
  • Rash, bumps, sores in and around the vagina, anus, or thighs
  • Unusual discharge (change in color or smell) 

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should definitely visit your doctor to get tested. This is especially important if you know you have had unprotected sex of any form recently. Most STDs are bacterial meaning they can be treated with antibiotics. It’s extremely important that you complete the entire course of antibiotics to make sure the drug is effective. Do not stop taking the medication even if you notice your symptoms have disappeared. HIV/AIDS is an STD that cannot be cured, only managed with lifelong medication. 

If you’ve read this far, you probably feel overwhelmed with information right now. But don’t be alarmed, you can always refer back to this article as necessary. The tl;dr is there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to have sex, but there are steps you can take to make sure you’re as protected as possible!

We also know that sex can be a taboo topic in general, but at Aavia we’re striving to open up the conversation about periods, sex, hormones … all of it! By downloading our app, you can post your questions to our community channels and have them answered by fellow Aavia users and our medical advisors. Best part is, you can even do it anonymously if that makes you feel more comfortable!

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