Reader: I’m in a committed lesbian relationship with my partner and we’ve been receiving conflicting advice about how often we should visit our obstetrician-gynecologist, if at all. What’s your advice?

Jade: I recently attended a workshop for women who have sex with other women. The feedback was that most public clinics, and even some private health practitioners, were of the belief that the women have low sexual concerns about risk. Some health practitioners went as far as deeming pap smears unnecessary for these women. Not only is this disappointing and discriminatory, but it places women at risk.

Aside from their sexual orientation, there are hereditary health issues to take into consideration. Not only that, sharing of penetrating toys between partners can result in the transmission of infections.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis and HIV are some of the infections that can be spread through sexual contact between female partners. This can happen through oral sex, sharing of toys and genital-to-genital contact.

Reducing your risk of contracting infections can be done in the following ways:

  • There are vaccines for HPV and hepatitis. Speak to your health practitioner about getting vaccinated.
  • Go to your gynaecologist for annual examinations.
  • Know your status. Do a full sexually transmitted infections screening. Also know your partner’s status and be truthful with her about your own status. Protect yourself by practising safe sex.
  • Use a different condom with each use whenever you share sex toys. Always use a toy cleaner.
  • There are dental dams on the market – though not as easily available as male condoms – which women can use during oral sex to protect themselves from transmission of infections.

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