December 18, 2008

Q&A: Pregnancy And Infection Risk From Lesbian Sex

A question from a female reader about possible pregnancy and infection risk from sexual contact with another woman

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Question: Can a woman get pregnant from having sex with another woman? I was sexual with one of my girlfriends and I am worried that could happen to me.

Thanks for your question. In order to become pregnant from sex, a woman would have to have sex with a man, as sperm are required for pregnancy. Women simply cannot get pregnant from sex with other women; it is not possible.

When female couples wish to have a baby together, they need to use a sperm donor, as they need sperm to fertilize a woman’s egg in order to begin a pregnancy.

Risk Of Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs)

That said, women can pass sexually transmissible infections, or STIs, to each other through sexual practices. For example, two women can pass bacterial infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea to each other through oral sex, sharing sex toys, or other sexual play behaviors that involve genital contact.

Even yeast infections may be sexually passed among two women, as can herpes, syphilis, HIV and the human papillomavirus (or HPV).

Reducing Infection Risk

Women can reduce their risk of infection by taking steps toward safer sex. For example, women should not share sex toys with each other. If they both enjoy sex play that involves vibrators or dildos, they should each have their own toy.

If they decide to share a toy anyway, then they should place a new, unused condom on the toy before using it and then take the condom off, throw it away, and put a new condom on the toy before the second person uses it.

When it comes to oral sex, women can use a latex dental dam or a condom cut in half to serve as a barrier for cunnilingus. This can prevent the spread of infection from mouth to genitals or from genitals to mouth.

Talk To Each Other

Female couples, like male couples and male-female couples, are best advised to talk to each other about each other’s STI testing and treatment history.

Like other couples, there is much joy and pleasure to be had for female couples, however, concerns about infection risk can get in the way of being able to relax and enjoy sex. At least in regard to pregnancy risk, you can relax and rest assured that you are not able to become pregnant from sex with another woman.

Sometimes concerns about pregnancy or infection reflect more general concerns that a person might have about being sexual. If you are new to sex, and you have questions about it, consider talking to a parent, trusted adult, healthcare provider or counselor about your questions, concerns, anxieties or expectations for sex.

If you feel comfortable, you might try talking to your friend about her thoughts on your sexual experience together, how you both felt about it at the time and how you feel about it now, and what – if anything – it means for your friendship.

Talking about sex can feel difficult at first, but it often gets easier with practice and can help to make one’s sexual life and romantic relationships more enjoyable, relaxing and pleasurable.