Women who have sex with women

Overview

  • Current evidence indicates that cisgender women who have sex with women have the same rate of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as heterosexual women, however the prevalence of particular STIs differs between these groups.
  • Women who have sex with women are often presumed to be at low or now risk for STIs based on sexual orientation, including being refused screening in some cases, which can cause distrust of health care and poor health outcomes.
  • Women who have sex with women may be cisgender or transgender, and may have internal or external genitals, and use them in a variety of ways. It is important not to assume that women who have sex with women means 2 people with vaginas and uteruses.
  • Few data are available on the risk for STIs transmitted by sex between women, but risk probably varies by the specific STI and sexual practice (e.g. oral-genital sex; vaginal or anal sex using hands, fingers, or penetrative sex toys; and oral-anal sex).
  • Women who have sex with women are at risk for acquiring bacterial, viral and protozoal infections from current and prior partners, both men and women. Up to 90% of this group of women have had or continue to have sexual partners who are men.
  • Prevalence of bacterial vaginosis estimates are significantly higher for women who have sex with women (20-50%) than exclusively heterosexual women.