Growing up, all the safe sex talk was about sex between somebody with a penis and somebody with a vagina. All the stats reflected this type of sex too.
There was no mention, EVER, of sex between two women.
So, needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this video when I found it a couple months ago:
Pretty fun and hilarious, but also useful!
So today I want to share with you some tips on have safe sex between women. Ready?
Fact: Women who have sex with women can STILL get STIs.
According to Columbia University’s Go Ask Alice program, which includes health promotion specialists and professionals as well as health care providers,
STIs that are less likely to be transmitted between female sex partners include gonorrhea, hepatitis B, syphilis, and HIV. It’s been noted, though, that [women who have sex with women] who’ve been diagnosed with any of these less common STIs often have previously had sex with men at some point (especially in their younger years).
But according to the same source, women who only have sex with other women are at a higher risk of contracting bacterial vaginosis, chlamydia, genital herpes, HPV, pubic lice, and trichomoniasis.
So… if you’re a woman and you have sex with other women, ever, you should still know how to have safe sex with them.
How to Protect Yourself
1. Get tested & talk to your partner about safe sex.
This is pretty basic, but it’s important with any new partner. If you haven’t gotten tested, do it. You’ll feel better once you have, and then you can be honest if you do have something instead of accidentally passing it on to your new partner.
It’s also important to talk about what kinds of STI prevention you want to go with, to make sure you’re on the same page — and to also share if you have any allergies! You don’t want to be ready with latex-based products and end up finding out your partner is allergic. I’ve actually found some brands of condoms irritate me more than others, and I have no idea why. Might as well have that conversation before anything happens, right?
2. Don’t overuse scented soap, bubble baths, and shower gels.
Preventative health care, my friends! Perfumed products can cause genital irritation and soreness. This can leave you more susceptible to STIs as well as yeast infections. So don’t use them too often.
Or, even better, just use scentless products. I personally like Dove’s soap for sensitive skin, since I have all-around sensitive skin. But even then, don’t overdo it.
Note: This info came from my health care provider, when I had a yeast infection myself. Fun times. So no online source to share, sorry!
2. Use a non-porous barrier.
Condoms and dental dams create a barrier to help prevent transmission of infections. Considering how thin they are, they shouldn’t be unpleasant to use… especially if you get creative with how they’re held in place! (Garters, anyone? 😉) You can also use them for *analingus* as well.
Dental dams are usually made of latex or polyurethane and are square in shape, to be laid on top of the genitals. You can make your own out of condoms as well, just by cutting lengthwise. That generally works out cheaper! (But you probably want to go with an un-lubricated condom in that case, to keep from slipping.) Or you can use latex gloves as well, either on your hands or cut lengthwise — assuming there are no latex allergies, of course.
Do NOT use plastic bags or plastic wrap, because there are minuscule holes in those that can let in infections… besides, I don’t know about you, but I’d feel more confident knowing I’m using an actual product meant for sexual health, not keeping food fresh.
If you want to see what they look like, watch that video at the top of this post!
3. Wash your hands.
Seriously. You wash your hands before you eat, so you should wash your hands before your fingers are going anywhere near your genitals, too! Not only will that help make sure you don’t cause any irritation just from your day-to-day buildup of germs, it will help reduce the transmission of STIs by the same logic. Always wash your hands before and after sex, but especially before your fingers go near each others’ genitals.
4. Use a good, safe lube.
It keeps things more pleasurable but also helps ensure that any friction doesn’t cause burns or accidental cuts, which can make the sensitive skin down there more vulnerable to infection. Maybe don’t use lube for dental dams, because that could cause some annoying slipping, but definitely use it for sex toys and fingering. If you’re not sure where to start, Pink Water is the one I use, also sold at The Traveling Tickle Trunk! Obviously, it’s water-based. It’s also good if you have sensitive skin, like I do!
5. If you’re using sex toys, wash them.
Most sex toys come with instructions on how to clean them. Follow them!
UPDATE 2/24/2017: I recently learned that most toys do not contain instructions on how to wash them. This was because I’ve only ever gotten my toys from The Traveling Tickle Trunk, and they have had instructions. According to the company owner, many toys don’t have any instructions, and if they do they’re not necessarily correct.
The owner also shared that in general, you should wash your toys with regular soap and hot water, then rinse them thoroughly in hot water again. You don’t need any specific cleaners or fancy cleaning routines for different types of toys. (Leather and suede is the only exception!)
Make sure you wash them right before and after each use, even if you haven’t used it for a while. In fact, you should wash your toys especially if you haven’t used them for a while!
Also, there are a lot of sex toys and manufacturers out there who don’t actually use plastics that are safe for sexual use. So pay attention to what you’re using! Ensure your sex toys are made of silicone, glass, or stainless steel. Make sure if they’re silicone, they’re 100% silicone! It doesn’t really matter what grade, but if it’s 100% silicone it will be safe.
And remember: if you use a silicone toy, you’ll want a water-based lubricant because a silicone-based one won’t work — the lube will turn gummy and you’ll have to scrape it off!
Protip: Start with the brands We Vibe and Fun Factory. I know they’re safe because The Traveling Tickle Trunk sells them! If you’re in Edmonton, like me, The Traveling Tickle Trunk is a fantastic, inclusive, fun place with all the stuff you need for sexy times and ALL their products are made with safe materials. I discovered them while I was at university, when my floor did a Tickle Trunk party, much like Tupperware parties! (And no, The Traveling Tickle Trunk did not sponsor this post. I just really love them!)
6. If you’re going to switch between anal play and genital, switch materials or keep those toys separate.
I mean, think about it — do you want stuff from your butt going into your genitals? I don’t! That’s pretty much asking for an infection, STI or not. It’s better to keep certain toys for anal play and separate ones for genital play.
Same goes for switching partners, if you’ve got more than one. New lube, new dam, new toy. Wash your hands. Wash your toys. It’s better to be safe with this kind of thing than chalk it up to the “heat of the moment” when you’ve got an incurable STI.
In many cases it’s also important to store certain toys separately from one another so as always, make sure you do your research.
UPDATE 2/24/2017: I recently learned from the owner of The Traveling Trunk that:
Any toy that has to be stored separately from another toy is not inert and is therefore not safe for use inside the body. We do sell toys that are porous but for external use only. Those toys can absorb dirt, color, odor and other things from toys or other products that they are stored with so putting them in a box or case is the best. Again, those should be used externally only — cock rings and masturbation sleeves are good examples of these kinds of toys.
I hope these tips help you in your sexy encounters, or that this becomes a resource to share with your women friends who have sex with women. Be safe, and have fun!