Why lesbians should use barriers during sex with new partners

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Dear Dr. Myrtle,

Why do I need to use barriers? I’m a lesbian!


So you’re a lesbian. Do you think that lesbians don’t transmit infections to each other?

Humans transmit infections back and forth regardless of gender. Eighty percent of lesbians have at one time in their lives been intimate with men. Serial monogamy (being in one long-term relationship after another) increases the chance that although you may have never been sexually intimate with a man, one of your partners may have been, and may still have an asymptomatic infection. In addition, some women describe themselves as lesbians even though they’re occasionally sexually intimate with men. (Asking someone else what they mean by "lesbian" is probably the best way to understand what they mean by that term.)

But I have never been sexually intimate with a man, and neither has my partner.

Women can still pass along many sexually transmitted infections to each other.

Latex is a barrier that keeps all sorts of things from passing through: chlamydia, herpes, trichamonas, HIV, HPV, hepatitis, syphillis, gonorrhea, colonic bacteria, blood, as well as keeping you from getting a facial rash from your lover’s acidic vaginal pH. Chlamydia infections are now the single most reported sexually transmitted disease in the United States. It’s easily transmissible, often without symptoms, and can cause infertility. Just because you love women doesn’t mean that you or one of your partners doesn’t want to become a mom someday: quite a price to pay. Some women even have trouble with yeast infections if their partner’s yeast is introduced into their vagina, because it’s of a different yeast strain than the one they carry around.

Besides, latex and lube are great sex toys. Have you ever gone down a slide with your shorts on, on a hot summer day, feeling the skin on the back side of your legs go lub, lub, lub, stretch, stick!? Compare that to sliding down a water slide, where you go swish, slide, wheeee, (splash!). Sensation can be increased when you take out the friction, and that’s exactly what latex + lube does.

Dr. Myrtle