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LGBTQ

Lesbian, Bisexual and Women who have sex with Women

What does this mean? 

Lesbian: A woman who has a sexual and/or romantic attraction towards women. Some women choose to define themselves as gay instead of lesbian.

Bisexual: Someone who has sexual and/or romantic attraction to both women and men. It is often used as an umbrella term that can include any other orientations where there is attraction to more than one gender.

WSW: A woman who has sex with women.

Sexual health

Women who have sex with women are generally at lower risk from STIs, but low risk doesn't mean no risk, so it's still important to look after your sexual health. Any one-on-one contact, such as oral sex or using the same hand when touching yourself and then your partner, or even sharing sex toys can put you at risk.

The most effective way to make oral sex with a vagina safer is to use an oral sex dam, which is a very thin, soft plastic square used to cover the genitals during oral sex.

If you are using sex toys, you can prevent the transmission of STIs by covering it with a new condom each time you have sex (particularly between different partners) and using water based lube. Oil based lube can cause the condom to break It is important to clean your sex toys between sessions. How to do this will depend on what it is made of and if it used batteries or has parts that can’t be washed. Sex toys come with advice on how to clean them so it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. If your sex toys can be washed, you need to wash them thoroughly with warm water and soap after each use. 

STIs can be passed on through inserting fingers and hands into your partner (especially if you have any cuts on your hands) or by touching yourself and then your partner. This can be prevented by wearing latex gloves for digital penetration. Never re-use the gloves- use a new pair of gloves each time you have sex and use plenty of water based lube. If you are not using latex gloves, it is important you wash your hands before or after sex, particularly between touching yourself and touching your partner and vice versa.

Useful links and support

Yorkshire MESMAC: www.mesmac.co.uk

Stonewall: www.stonewall.org.uk

NHS lesbian health: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/LGBhealth/Pages/lesbianhealth.aspx