Safer Sex for Lesbians and Bisexual Women

How to Protect Yourself from STDs and HIV

Two Young Women Laughing in Bed
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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?

First the disclaimer. 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.

Here are some low-risk activities:

  • Masturbation (only touching yourself)
  • Cybersex
  • Nipple and breast stimulation when not lactating
  • Erotic massage
  • Body rubbing
  • Kissing
  • 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 penis/vaginal intercourse
  • Unprotected penis/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, HBV, gonorrhea HIV and hepatitis C. You might also consider serotesting for genital herpes. 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.

    More information:
    How to Turn a Glove into a Safer Sex barrier