Lesbians and bisexual women can still catch or transmit an STI (or sexually transmitted infection). Not all STIs have easily recognisable symptoms, so it is vital that women are aware of the risks and get tested regularly for infections they may not realise they have. Sometimes bisexual women or lesbians are told they don’t need to be tested for STIs, and this is untrue.

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Common Issues

Research has indicated that around half of bisexual women or lesbians who were tested were infected with an STI of some kind. Common STIs included chlamydia, genital warts and herpes. Some women may not be aware than any exchange of bodily fluids can carry infection. Even touching yourself and then a partner can transmit disease, and oral sex is another source of infection.

Some lesbians also think because they are not having sex with men this eliminates the need for regular pap smears. For more on this issue, see this report from The Guardian.

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Protect Yourself

Some useful tips to keep in mind to reduce passing on infections include washing sex toys between sessions and using a condom on them if using them with different partners or in different body openings. Wash your hands before and after sex, as bacteria can linger. If fisting, either anally or vaginally, be sure to use latex gloves and be generous with the lubricant (water-based is best).

For oral sex, a dental dam is the safest option, especially if participants have any sores or cuts in or around their mouths. A dental dam is a 15cm square of very thin plastic – usually polyurethane or latex – that is used to cover a woman’s genitals or her anus when oral sex is performed, and it prevents the transmission of many infections.

Getting tested regularly is a good idea, either at a clinic or with home STI kits. If you want to know more about home STI kits, then you should consult experts, such as www.greenwichsexualhealth.org, who can tell you more about what the kits involve.#

Your sexual health is important, not just for you but for your partners as well. Most STIs can be treated fairly easily, but the important first step is to know that an STI is present and home tests can be a convenient option.