You can still get sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from sexual activity between women. Oral sex and sharing sex toys are two of the more common ways women who have sex with women can get an STI, but some STIs can be passed on through intimate skin-on-skin contact and mutual masturbation too. It’s worth getting checked out regularly, see how often below.
Do I still need a smear test?
It's important for anyone with a cervix to attend cervical screening (smear test) when they are invited. Even if you've never had sex, or have only had sex with women, you can still develop abnormal cells. If these are left untreated, they may lead to cervical cancer.
Read more about smear tests, including how often you should be getting one, on the nhs.uk website.
You can book a cervical screening appointment with your GP. Cervical screening is not available at sexual health clinics in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.
Why should I use condoms?
If you're using sex toys, use a new condom for each of you and pop a new condom on when you use the sex toy in a different body opening (vagina, anus, mouth). If a condom doesn’t fit on the sex toy, wash the toy thoroughly between each partner.
Public Health England recommends that people should have a full sexual health check-up once a year. If someone is having sex with different partners, it's advised they get a check-up every three months.
Can you get an STI from oral sex?
STIs can be passed on through oral sex too. For oral sex on a vagina or bum, use dams to keep you and your partner safe. Flavoured dams are available to make sex more fun. Look out for the sexual health team out and about and get free dams from us!
What are common STI symptoms?
Some signs you may have an STI include:
burning when peeing
lumps, bumps or sores around anal/genital area
itching around genitals
Remember: some STIs have no symptoms, so it’s worth getting a regular sexual health check-up.
If you have some of these symptoms, it doesn’t always mean you have an STI. Some things like Thrush and Bacterial Vaginosis can cause similar symptoms so it’s worth visiting your GP or nearest sexual health clinic if you're worried.
Lube is important for good sex!
Lube not only makes sex more enjoyable, but it also reduces the risk of a condom breaking.
Avoid oil-based lube as this can erode condoms and make them break. Silicone-based lube is good for anal sex as it lasts quite a while, but it shouldn’t be used with sex toys which have silicone in them as this can damage the toy. Water-based lube is good to use with condoms and sex toys so it’s a great all-rounder! You can get this from our groups, C-Card packs and sexual health clinics.
What happens if I leave an STI untreated?
Untreated STIs can lead to serious health problems (including damage to your heart, brain and eyes), so it’s worth getting checked out between each sexual partner.
Don't forget about consent!
It can be exciting try different things with regards to sex, but one thing should never change and that is consent.
Consent must be given for each sexual act by everyone involved. You shouldn’t feel pressured to do something you’re not comfortable with because someone assumes that’s what you should be into because of your sexuality or gender identity.