a. Oral safe sex-supplies for lesbians
Even though two women don’t have to worry about getting pregnant when they have sex with each other, they still have to think about how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections. STIs can be transmitted through fingering, oral sex and sharing sex toys. Here are a few ways to reduce your risk of STIs and other infections:
- Dental dams. Use these if you’re performing oral sex, either on the vagina or the anus. Unprotected oral sex puts you at risk for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, herpes, HPV, syphilis, and hepatitis. There is also a small chance of transmitting HIV, but this is quite rare, and would require the person giving oral sex to have cuts or open sores in or around their mouth.
- You can use these for sex-toys. Sex toys can transfer infections from one person to another, so clean sex toys thoroughly in between use.
- Gloves or finger cots. These can protect you during manual-genital stimulation, such as fingering, and clitoral stimulation. They may feel more comfortable when used with lube. Manual sex (fingering) has a fairly low STI risk, but you can still potentially get chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, HPV or genital warts.
Regular STI testing: Everyone who is sexually active should get regularly tested for STIs. Talk to your partner about when they were last tested, and what for. Talk to your doctor about how often you should get tested.
Vaginismus is a condition involving muscle spasms in the pelvic floor muscles. For some women, the vaginal muscles involuntarily or persistently contract when they attempt vaginal penetration. Vaginismus can make it very painful, difficult, or impossible to have sexual intercourse, to insert a tampon, or to undergo a gynaecological exam. When you try to insert an object such as a tampon, penis/vibrator or speculum into the vagina, it tightens up because of involuntary contractions of the pelvic floor muscles. This leads to generalised muscle spasm, pain and temporary cessation of breathing. If you have vaginismus, you can’t control or stop the contractions of your vaginal muscles.
Symptoms can include:
- Painful intercourse with tightness and pain that may be burning or stinging
- Penetration being difficult or impossible
- Long-term sexual pain with or without a known cause
- Pain during tampon insertion
- Pain during a gynaecological examination
- Generalised muscle spasm or breathing cessation during attempted intercourse
Vaginismus is classified into two types:
- Primary vaginismus: when vaginal penetration has never been achieved
- Secondary vaginismus: when vaginal penetration was once achieved, but is no longer possible, potentially due to factors such as gynaecologic surgery or trauma
Vaginismus does not prevent people from becoming sexually aroused, but they may become anxious about sexual intercourse, so that they try to avoid sex or vaginal penetration
Treatment is possible however and usually includes education, sex therapy and counselling, and exercises
c. Vaginal Thrush
Vaginal thrush is a common yeast infection that affects most women at some point. It is an infection of the vagina and/or vulva with a yeast germ called candida. Some women are prone to recurring episodes of thrush. Certain factors can make thrush more likely to develop, including:
- When you are pregnant due to hormone changes
- Medical conditions such as diabetes or HIV
- Taking antibiotic medication
- Depleted immune system
- Friction during sex can cause minor damage where Candida are more likely to thrive – make sure your vagina is well lubricated
- Some cancers and their treatment
Itch of the skin folds outside the vagina is the most common symptom of thrush. It may be itchy inside the vagina also. There may also be soreness of the vulva. Sometimes it may be painful to pass urine and/or painful to have sex. There may also be a discharge from the vagina which is usually creamy white and quite thick. It can add to the itch, redness, discomfort, or pain around the vulva, and may cause cracking in the skin. The discharge from thrush does not usually smell. Other conditions, such as genital herpes or urinary tract infection may have similar symptoms, so it is important to have the diagnosis confirmed.
There are a few different options for treating thrush. Some treatments are applied directly to the vagina and/or vulva; others are medicines which are swallowed orally.
Topical thrush treatments are pessaries and creams which you insert into the vagina with an applicator. They contain anti-yeast medicines. They can be administered as a large single dose, or a lower dose over a few days. You may also want to rub some anti-thrush cream on to the skin around the vagina a few days, especially if it is itchy.
Diflucan is a single dose tablet that is taken to treat thrush, and is only available via a prescription from your doctor. You may also want to rub some anti-yeast cream on to the skin around the vagina for a few days, especially if it is itchy.
Preventing vaginal thrush
If you get thrush frequently, you can:
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting underwear, tights or jeans – the aim is to prevent the vaginal area from being constantly warm, moist and airless.
- Use water and an emollient (moisturiser) soap substitute to clean the vulva (skin around your vagina), but avoid cleaning this area more than once a day
- Apply a greasier moisturiser to the skin around your vagina several times a day to protect it
- Avoid potential irritants in perfumed soaps, shower gels, vaginal deodorants, wipes and douches
- Ensure your blood sugar level is kept under control, if you have diabetes
- Eat probiotic yoghurt or take probiotic supplements