This week, she discusses same sex protection.
I just got out of a long-term relationship with a guy, and I am looking to experiment with girls. I think college is as good a time as any to broaden my horizons. My boyfriend and I used a condom in the beginning, but we stopped using one once we got serious and I went on the pill. Both of us have been tested, and we are both clean. Since I plan on only engaging in sexual activity with other girls, do I need to worry about protection still? I’m obviously not going to get pregnant, and my friend told me girls can’t catch anything from each other.
—Ready to Try Something New
It’s great that you got tested previously — knowing your STI status is always a good thing, especially when engaging with a new partner. While you are right that you do not risk pregnancy with other women, there is still the risk of contracting STIs. However, your level of risk varies depending upon what kind of activities you and your partner engage in.
Low-risk activities include french kissing, massages, mutual masturbation, fingering (insertion of fingers into the vaginal canal) and performing oral sex on another woman through a protective barrier, like a dental dam. Moderate and higher risk activities include oral sex or rimming without a dental dam, fisting and sharing dildos or other toys without thoroughly disinfecting between uses.
Fortunately, both University Health Services and the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center have a number of different forms of protection available. Condoms are the most common method of protection, and they are available at McCosh Health Center for free. You may not think you need to use a condom if you are not engaging in sexual activities with a man, but you can use them on sex toys such as dildos to prevent the transmission of STIs and other infections. Latex condoms are most effective for the prevention of STIs, but if you or your partner has an allergy, polyurethane condoms are also available.
The Reality Condom, or female condom, is available at the LGBT Center. Made of polyurethane, it can be inserted several hours before use. It can protect you and your partner from STI transmission during fingering, fisting and similar activities.
Latex gloves and finger cots are a good form of protection for activities where your fingers or hands come into contact with your partner’s bodily fluids and vice versa. Cuts, lesions and any other breaking of the skin can that comes into contact with your partner’s bodily fluids puts you at risk for infection.
For both vaginal-oral sex and anal-oral sex, the best form of protection is the dental dam. Dental dams are available at both McCosh and the LGBT Center. In a pinch, you can use non-microwavable Saran wrap (check the label!) for protection during these activities. However, latex or polyurethane dams provide the best protection.
While abstinence is the only way to ensure full protection against STIs and pregnancy, the barrier methods just mentioned are the best way to reduce your risk of pregnancy and contracting STIs during sexual activity. Have fun trying to find what works best for you and your partner.