Lesbians are presumed to be at a low or no risk of getting HIV/ STDs because of their sexual orientation. Even though women that strictly have sex with other women don't have to worry about pregnancy, lesbians need to think about how to protect themselves from STIs. Certain risk factors have been associated with contracting STDs among lesbians, especially surrounding the queer social life that comprises of alcoholism, substance abuse through drug misuse, multiple sex partners, participation in a range of sexual activities like orgies that possibly involve unprotected vaginal penetration by both men and women. Research studies show that more than half a percentage of lesbians have had sexual intercourse with men at some point in their lives yet they are less likely to go for gynaecologic examinations.
Sexual practices among lesbians through oral sex, genital skin to skin contact, anal sex, manual stimulation through hands or fingers and sharing sex toys without any barrier method can lead to getting STDs/ STIs like Chlamydia, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Genital Warts and even HIV. Also lesbians that have never had sex with men can get Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). According to Web MD, the viruses that cause most cancers are sexually transmitted between women. The symptoms that are affiliated with STDs/ STIs include abnormal vaginal discharge, vaginal itching, a fishy odor, discomfort during sex and urination, intense abdominal pains plus sores in and around the vaginal area.
The lesbian community needs to practice safer sex methods that can reduce the likelihood of contracting STDs/ STIs in the exchange of vaginal fluids and menstrual blood during sex. The use of dental dams which are square shaped latex sheaths that serve as a barrier of protection against the transmission of STDs/ STIs during oral sex or "tribbing" is recommended to be one of such methods. They can be accessed from different LGBTI organizations and few sexual minorities friendly health facilities. The indulgence of condom use is advisable during sexual activities like orgies that involve male partners as well as strap-ons during sex. Lesbians that find pleasure in using vibrators and dildos for genital stimulation should ensure that their sex toys are always clean before any other sexual encounter because there are chances that they could be unaware of the current HIV status of their intimate partner(s). Female condoms are also available for lesbians that prefer love vaginal penetration.
However, the surest and most effective measure is regular HIV/ STDs testing. Treatments can be recommended for those who experience signs or actually have STDs. Frequent cervical pap tests are advisable for any indications of uterine, ovarian or cervical cancers. Marjorine Nakimuli, a social worker at Most At Risk Populations Initiative (MARPI) Mulago advised that there is need for more advocacy to ensure that LBQ women use the available LGBTI health services like they did in the past when they partnered with health care providers to sensitize the community on how best to handle the health issues that affect them. (Bombastic Magazine, 2016).