There is often a misunderstanding about which STIs women who have sex with women (WSW) are at risk of and how these STIs are passed. Firstly, it is important to understand that lesbian and bisexual women are not immune to STIs. This means that you should get tested if you may have been at risk.

How can STIs be passed from woman to woman?

Exchanging bodily fluids

When bodily fluids are exchanged, bacteria and viruses can be transmitted from one person to another. This can occur in different ways such as oral sex, or by touching yourself and your partner with the same hand.

Skin-to-skin contact

STIs such as Syphilis, Genital Warts and Herpes can be contracted through sexual contact alone. This means that it is possible to catch an STI even if you do not have intercourse.

Sharing sex toys

STIs can be passed on through sex toys which have not been cleaned properly between use by two or more people.

Our top tips for safer sex

Wash your hands

To prevent spreading an infection with your hands or fingers, you should wash your hands before and after sex.

Clean your sex toys

When using sex toys, you should use a new condom for every new partner and for each different part of the body. Sex toys should be washed between each use to prevent the potential spread of infection.

Avoid oral sex if you have any cuts in your mouth or use a dental dam

STIs can be transmitted more easily through open wounds so you should avoid engaging in oral sex if you have any cuts or sores. Alternatively, you can use a dental dam to help prevent STIs passing from person to person. This is a latex square which covers a woman’s genitals or anus during oral sex.

What should I get tested for?

We advise lesbian and bisexual women to get tested for the following STIs:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Herpes
  • Ureaplasma
  • Mycoplasma
  • Gardnerella
  • Trichomonas
  • HPV
  • Syphilis

Better2Know’s team of medical experts has designed three STI screens aimed specifically at WSW:

The Comfort Screen tests for seven of the STIs listed above, providing a comprehensive picture of your sexual health.

The Comprehensive Screen tests for seven of the STIs listed above with an additional vaginal swab for culture. This swab will be tested to detect any other non-sexually transmitted bacterial infections which may be causing you discomfort or irritation in your genital area.

The Confirm Screen is our most comprehensive option. This screen tests for seven STIs with an additional vaginal swab for culture, plus a PAP Smear and HPV test to check your cervical health. Regular cervical screening every 3 to 5 years is advised.

Get in touch

Our Sexual Health Advisors are on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer your call and arrange your confidential appointment. If you have any queries, you can contact our friendly team using our anonymous online chat facility.


[1] The Brunswick Centre: Lesbian Women’s Health

[2] WebMD: Lesbian Health

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