Lesbians' Sexual Activities and Efforts to Reduce Risks for Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Published in: Journal of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, v. 4, no. 2, 2000, p. 41-48

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1999

by Allison Diamant, Janet Lever, Mark A. Schuster

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INTRODUCTION: Little information is available regarding the specific sexual practices of lesbians, and whether these activities may carry an associated health risk. METHODS: Self-identified lesbians from all U.S. states (N = 6935) responded to a questionnaire that was printed in a national biweekly gay, lesbian and bisexual news magazine. Items included sexual practices engaged in with women during the past 1 and 5 years, past history of a sexually transmitted disease (STD), number and gender of lifetime and recent sexual partners, concerns regarding STDs, and risk reduction behaviors. RESULTS: Lesbians engaged in a variety of sexual activities with female partners including orogenital sex, use of a dildo, and anilingus. Seventeen percent reported a lifetime diagnosis of an STD. Women with a history of an STD were more likely to be concerned about STDs, to ask questions of their new female sexual partners, and to have had an HIV test. CONCLUSIONS: Lesbians participate in a variety of sexual activities with their female partners that involve the exchange of body fluids, potential exposure to blood, and genital and anal stimulation that may put them at risk for STDs.

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