The only form of safer sex between women is not allowing any body fluid (vaginal or menstrual fluid/breast milk) to enter your body and vice-versa. Activities that are safer include kissing, hugging, breast stimulation, massage and masturbation.
So What’s Risky?
Oral sex is low risk, but not if you or your partner have any cold sores, cuts or abrasions on or in your mouth or genitals, or are having a period. Dental Dams: (squares of latex which are sometimes flavoured), or a cut up condom placed over the genitals can provide protection against such risks.
Mouth-to-mouth kissing is safe. However, you should be aware of bleeding gums, sores or cuts which could provide a risk.
Sharing sex toys (vibrators and dildos) can be risky if they have vaginal fluids, blood or faeces on them. Always clean your sex toys. Also, using condoms on sex toys and changing them before using on a different person or body areas is a good way to prevent the exchange of bodily fluids.
Any sexual activity, which can lead to bleeding or cuts/breaks in the lining of the vagina or anus, is of higher risk.
This can include penetration, fisting or certain S&M activities. Keep your nails short and/or cover hands with latex gloves or individual finger cots: a device resembling a condom used to cover the finger.
So What Could You Catch?
Lesbians and bisexual women are at low risk of catching HIV from having sex with women but other things such as Thrush and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) aren’t so low. STIs are usually transmitted through close body or sexual contact and are usually caused by:
- Viruses (e.g. Herpes, Hepatitis, Molluscum Contagiosum and Genital Warts)
- Bacteria (e.g. Thrush, Bacterial Vaginosis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Non Specific Urethritis and Syphilis)
- Parasites (e.g. ‘Crabs’, Scabies, Trichomonas Vaginalis and Threadworms)
STIs can have a wide variety of symptoms from itchiness, redness, soreness, bumps and discharge etc but sometimes the symptoms are easy to miss or not there at all. The best thing to do is to have regular check-ups at your local sexual health clinic.
And remember; if you do pick up an STI, don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed because the likelihood is that most people at least once in their lifetime will come into contact with one.