body, mind and spirit
Sexual health for lesbians
and bisexual women
Sexual health is about
- the body -- knowing your body, loving your body
- the mind -- exploring your fantasies, talking
- the spirit -- the anticipation, the ecstasy, the fulfillment
Sexual Health is important for
- women who do not have sex
- women who have sex with one person
- women who have sex with one person
- women who have sex with themselves
- women who have sex with more than one person
There is no on community standard for sexuality.
Healthy sex is as individual as you are.
It's how you describe yourself:
It's getting rid of labels:
- Lesbian bed death
It's about celebrating different body sizes, shapes, forms and abilities.
It's about knowing your body, exploring your body taking care of your body
loving your body
It's about diversity in sex:
- Anal Sex
- Sex Toys
- Oral Sex
- role playing
It's about exploration and trust and excitement.
Playing with Toys
Sex toys, like dildos, can be a lot of fun. Remember that one size does not fit all,
and it's not necessarily connected with body size. If purchasing sex toys for the first time, start out small. You may find that you want to increase the size later.
Water based lube, and lots of it, can make your experience even better and
it helps prevent soreness or injury. Also remember that sexually transmitted
diseases can be spread by sharing sex toys. See the section below for more on this.
Sex Risks & STDs
Women can get sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as bacterial vaginosis, HPV, HIV, chlamydia, crabs and herpes from other women.
Many sexually transmitted diseases are passed through body fluids, such as blood, vaginal fluids and discharges from open sores.
You can reduce your risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease by keeping your partner's bodily fluids out of your vagina, anus and mouth.
Sexual Activities Risk Chart
Massage, hugging, masturbation, using vibrators and other toys (not shared), dry kissing
French kissing, shared hand/genital contact with a barrier, oral, anal or vaginal sex using a barrier, fisting using a barrier, body to body rubbing (when fluids are not involved)
shared hand, finer/genital contact with sores or cuts, oral sex or fisting without a barrier
oral sex without a barrier on a woman during her period, vaginal or anal sex without a barrier, fisting or sharing toys without a barrier, sharing needles of any kind
One in every five Americans has herpes. Women can pass on herpes to other women through skin to skin contact. A woman who has an open herpes blister on or near her lips can transmit genital herpes to another woman's mouth if she kisses her and to her genitals if she goes down on her. Herpes can also be transmitted if a woman touches an open sore, and then touches her or her lovers genitals.
You can still kiss and have oral sex if you or your partner has herpes --
you just need to be careful. It is when the sores are visible that kissing and oral sex should be avoided completely, because this is when the risk of herpes
infection is the highest. Even when the sores aren't present, though, herpes can
still be transmitted. So any woman who has herpes or has a female sex partner who does, should always use dental damns or other barrier methods during oral sex.
Women can become infected with HIV through having sex with other women.
HIV is transmitted by behavior -- the transmission of body fluids such as blood,
vaginal fluid, semen or breast milk. There are many places where you can
get a free and anonymous HIV test, including the Center, which offers
testing every Thursday from 5:30-7 pm and the first and third Monday of the
month from 1-2:30 pm.
Some Things to Consider
There does not need to be penetration for women to catch STDs. You should use barriers during sex, especially if you or your partner has an STD. Wear latex gloves and use lube. Use dental dams, non-lubricated condoms cut lengthwise or plastic wrap during oral sex and rimming. Don't forget: dildos and sex toys can carry STDs. So cover them up with condoms and change the barrier between each user if you are sharing.
If you are sexually active, talk to your doctor about getting tested for STDs.
Sexuality & Health Care
It is your doctor’s duty to provide you with the information and medical care that you need to stay healthy. That is one reason why having an open and honest relationship with your health care provider is very important.
Your doctor will not be able to provide you with all of the information that you need to know if she or he does not know that you are a lesbian or bisexual woman. Always remember, you have the right to ask questions about your body and your health care needs.
Coming out as a lesbian or bisexual woman is not always easy. If you aren’t out to your doctor, think about it.
Ask your friends about their experiences with their doctors. If you don’t feel safe coming out to your doctor, start looking for one that will help you feel more comfortable.
For most people, it is not a lot of fun, nor very sexy, to go to the doctor for medical tests. But detecting problems earlier can make the difference.
You don’t have to have sex with men to need a Pap test. A Pap test (or Pap smear) checks for changes or cancer in the cervix and vagina. Infection with HPV (human papillomavirus) is the most important risk factor for cervical cancer. HPV is spread from woman to woman through sexual contact.
All women who are or have been sexually active or have reached the age of 18 years should have annual Pap tests. After 3 normal tests, this may be reduced to once every two years, upon advice by your health care provider.
The earlier that breast cancer is detected, the better the chance that it can be cured. Here are some suggested guidelines for breast examinations:
Perform a monthly breast self-exam.
Have an annual mammogram after the age of 40.
Have an annual breast exam.
Other Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer:
Stop smoking, avoid too much exposure to the sun, and eat a healthy and balanced diet.
There are programs available for women who do not have health insurance to obtain Pap tests, pelvic exams, breast exams and mammograms. Call The Center for more information.
Issues Affecting Sex
It’s sad, but true, that domestic violence and abuse happens in same-sex relationships. Threats of physical harm, forcing or coercing sex, jealous or controlling behaviors, or pushing, grabbing, slapping or punching are wrong. It’s important that the abuse stops. If you think that you or a friend may be in an abusive relationship, seek help. You don’t have to face this alone. Call the Center for confidential support and more information.
Sexual Assault and Rape
Sexual assault and rape are acts of violence. Yet the trauma of these acts of violence can become a sexual health issue. If you or a friend are a survivor of sexual assault, seek assistance.