Overall, the risks of transmitting infections through sex between women are low, but some sexually transmitted infections, such as genital herpes, are just as common in lesbians as in heterosexual women. The likelihood of transmission depends on the type of infection and on the type of sex.
Infections that can be passed on through blood are Hepatitis C and B, HIV and syphilis. This means there may be increased risk of transmission if the person with the infection has her period, or if the sex involves blood letting – e.g. piercing.
The vagina is self cleaning. This means that it is able to deal with most germs coming from the outside – such as dirt under the finger nails. In fact more problems can be caused by soap and over-cleaning. Sharp finger nails in fingering can scratch the inside of the vagina; while this won’t do serious damage, it can increase the risk of catching infections. Some kind of lubricant is advisable for fisting and using dildos in order to reduce friction and soreness, however, the vagina is very elastic.
The following are things that may make sex safer depending upon the infection:
– Using condoms, or washing sex toys if they are being shared
– Not touching self then partner, partner then self
– Latex squares over the vulva or anus in oral sex
– Latex gloves for fingering/fisting
Most sexually transmitted infections are either uncommon in lesbians, or not easily passed in sex between women.
Most of the infections discussed on this web site can also be found in or around the anus or rectum even without having anal sex, that is thrush, herpes, crabs, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis and warts.
Vulval and vaginal soreness or itchiness can be caused by things other than infections. Soaps, biological washing powder (including some stain removers), shower gel, bubble bath or shampoo in bath water can be responsible; also tight trousers, tights or sex itself. Skin problems such as eczema can occur on the vulva. Vaginal skin can become dry at the time of the menopase as hormones change. In this case, oestrogen as cream or tablets can help.
Spermicidal lubricants can cause irritation and anyway are not necessary for sex between women. A water-based lubricant will be needed for dildos, gloves, condoms or dental dams to avoid damaging the rubber. Lubricants can help to avoid friction and soreness in sex.