Sexual Health – Women Who Have Sex With Women

See our need-to-know information on health information for women who have sex with women below!

Can STIs be transmitted from woman to woman?

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. You should get an STI test between each sexual partner.



How do I protect myself against STIs?

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, give them a good wash between each partner. 


Avoid oral sex if either of you has any cuts or sores in the mouth or on the lips, or use a dental dam. You should also wash your hands before and after sex and wear latex gloves and use plenty of water-based lubricant for vaginal and anal fisting.


What are common STI symptoms?

Look out for things like lumps, bumps or blisters in the genital area or things as well as itching, unusual discharge and pain when peeing as these can all be STI symptoms.


If you have one or more of these symptoms, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have an STI as some things like Thrush and Bacterial Vaginosis can cause similar symptoms like unusual discharge and itching. It’s worth visiting your GP or nearest sexual health clinic if you do have any of these symptoms though so they can help ease symptoms and treat any infections.


And don’t forget, some STIs are symptomless. Around 70% of women who have chlamydia don’t notice any symptoms, so it’s worth getting a check-up every time you change your sexual partner.



What happens if I leave an STI untreated?

Untreated STIs can lead to serious health problems, so it’s worth getting checked out between each sexual partner. Visit Cobridge Community Health Centre for a full STI test.



Do I still need a smear test if I’ve only had sex with other women?

Many people still believe that women who have sex with women don’t need to attend cervical screening (a smear test) but this really isn’t true. The BBC reports that around half of all eligible lesbian and bisexual women have never had a smear test.


You should have a cervical screening every three years if you’re aged 25 to 49, every five years if you’re aged 50 to 64. For women over 65 - only those who haven't been screened since age 50 or those who have recently had abnormal tests. Even if you’ve only ever had sex with women, you can still develop abnormal cells which if left untreated can lead to cervical cancer. 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.