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Question: How can you stay safe in WLW (women loving women) hook-ups?
Please Note: By WLW terminology - we are assuming that you mean sex between vagina owners, so please let us know if you meant something else. For folks with different genitalia, some of the general principles still apply!
With all hookups, there is no 100% guarantee of safety - but there are definitely ways to make things safer while maintaining the fun.
The good news is: For vagina owners who only have sex with other vagina owners, your risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection is already lower than in other groups. And if pregnancy is something that you don’t want, your risk of getting pregnant without a penis-owning partner is exactly zero.
Though the risk of STis is lower in WLW relationships, it can still happen! We once saw a case of a WLW couple who both ended up getting trichomoniasis vaginalis infections and who kept passing them back and forth between each other. Unfortunately, they both kept passing this back and forth because they weren’t treated at the same time and hadn’t been washing their sex toys.
Find a trusted partner(s) that makes you feel safe. Sex is generally more enjoyable when people feel safe and comfortable anyways. Try first meeting up in a public place if you don’t know them. Phone a friend or drop your location so your friends know where you’re going and can check in if you have concerns
Check in with your partner(s). -- Talk about sex(ual) health - have they been tested recently? Do they have a lot of partners - are their other relationships also WLW? Have they been feeling anything abnormal that suggests a possible infection - like abnormal vagina discharge or a new rash or bump down there? Choosing partners who don’t have symptoms, get regularly tested, and/or who have less partners can help reduce your risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection. -- Consent is sexy - talking to your partner(s) about what you like or what you don’t like can help give you both a better experience
Using sex toys or strap-ons? These can spread infections between people. Make sure to wash them after every use (with the appropriate type of wash for the type of toys you have) or maybe add a condom. You could also bring your own to use for yourself if you feel more comfortable. If using lube, make sure the lube you have is compatible with your partner and your sex toys
Barrier methods- using condoms or dental dams, depending on the type of sex you’re having, can help block some of the exchange of fluids that lead to spreading STIs. I know, I know - they’re not commonly used and dental dams can be hard to find in stores. This CAN help reduce your risk - doesn’t mean you have to do it! If you’re interested in a dental dam and can’t find it, check out this link to learn how to cut a condom up this way . Another new item on the market is latex underwear that was recently FDA approved for protecting against STIs during oral sex
Using fingers or hands? Wash your hands before and after sex, which is good for all kinds of infections (not just the sexual kind). You can also try finger condoms or gloves if you want to be extra safe
Get tested. Make sure you’re getting tested for STIs at the sites you’re having sex, annually or with new partners. Don’t forget to get your Pap smear, which includes HPV infection testing. (And if you’re wondering, yes - you can absolutely get HPV from a female partner.) Find a healthcare provider who you feel comfortable with and let them know what types of sex you’re having so they can make sure too get you the right testing. You are also welcome to do a consult with a TBD clinician or find a home testing kit that works for you as well.
Now I’m not suggesting that you have to do ALL of those things, but these are some things to think about incorporating into your hookups/sex life. We all operate with different risk thresholds - some people want to really reduce their risk which means taking lots of cautious measures, others are Ok with a little more risk in their lives at some points.
Try to choose a plan that suits you, keeps you safe, and gets you the most satisfaction in your sex life.
This article provides information about sexual health, healthcare and/or related subjects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be construed as a substitute for, medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or person with a medical concern should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of TBD Health Inc.
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