Barrier Devices and Adolescent Female-to-Female Sex

Though lesbian and bisexual adolescent girls have a higher risk of STIs and adolescent pregnancy than their heterosexual peers, there are few sex education programs that directly address the needs of these sexual minority girls. The increased risk stems from lesbian and bisexual girls’ decreased use of barrier devices with partners of all genders, among other things. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health has found four key factors that lead to decisions not to use barriers with female partners: pleasure, risk perception based on sex of sexual partner, lack of knowledge of sexual risk or of barrier use for female-to-female sexual activities, and use of STI testing as a prevention tool.

The third factor, lack of knowledge of sexual risk or of barrier use for female-to-female sexual activities, emerged from the participants expressing their own limited education on relevant methods for engaging in safe sex; this included their education from school sex education programs, from parents, from media sources, and from healthcare providers.

The authors of the study stress the importance of restructuring sex education programs so that they are more inclusive of sexual minority adolescents and so that messages to lesbian and bisexual girls are more specifically targeted. They argue that these measures “[...] will be critical to increase uptake of use of dental dams in female-to-female sex.” It will be crucial therefore that healthcare providers speak to their adolescent female patients about safe sexual practices regardless of sexual orientation and that they understand the specific risks that their sexual minority adolescent patients face.

You can read NewNowNext’s report on the study here: http://www.newnownext.com/what-queer-girls-arent-being-taught-about-sexually-transmitted-infections-is-criminal/01/2018/

You can access the full text in the Journal of Adolescent Health here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2017.10.005