Looking at an infographic published by Hers (check it out below), we were reminded of the health disparities many LGBTQ individuals still face today when accessing healthcare. Of course, it’s important for any sexually active individual to play safe when it comes to their sexual health. But it’s also crucial to understand the challenges different communities face — so we can help bring education and access to those in need. So here at ONE®, we’re sharing some safer sex tips.
Take Control of Your Sexual Well-Being
Remember, you are in control of your body. Yet, members of the LGBTQ community often face barriers to healthcare as a result of stigma. Many lack proper insurance and some are even refused care solely based on their gender identity. The transgender community has especially been excluded and misunderstood, leading many trans folks to distance themselves from their sexual health concerns.
We’re passionate about helping people be their most authentic selves, and creating amazing pleasure products that help people play safe.
Condoms and oral dams serve as effective ways to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during penetrative or oral sex. Did someone say lube? Yes! Using additional lubricant not only increases both pleasure and comfort — additional lube also helps prevent condoms from breaking. Always use either water-based or silicone-based lubricants (anything that’s condom compatible) with latex condoms or oral dams.
Though pregnancy may not be a concern in some LGBTQ relationships, many individuals use birth control to regulate periods, avoid gender dysphoria, and relieve PMS symptoms — which are all components of one’s sexual health.
With greater access to these resources, you can create peace of mind in your relationship and take care of your sexual well-being.
Foster a Safe Environment
Consent is a must, and remember: consent is sexy! If you are worried about ruining the heat of the moment, have a discussion around protection and consent ahead of time. That way, you will both have a clear idea of what is okay and what isn’t prior to entering the bedroom (or bathroom, or wherever you’re getting funky). You can also use a checklist to help identify and compare sexual preferences and preferred pronouns, which will allow you to better understand one another and feel more comfortable with your partner.
When it comes to sex, remember to check in with your partner(s). Even if they consented to one sex act (let’s say, oral sex), they may not consent to everything (such as anal sex). When you check in with your partner(s), you’ll create an environment where sex is mutually pleasurable and intimate for all.
According to the CDC, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are 17 times more likely to get anal cancer than heterosexual men. Bisexual-identifying women between the ages of 15 and 44 have a viral STI rate of almost three times that of women who only have sex with other women.
Though testing positive for an STI can be a scary thought, it’s much more common than you’d think. In fact, the CDC estimates there are approximately 20 million newly reported STI infections each year. This number shouldn’t scare you, though. Most STIs are very treatable, especially if they’re caught early.
Did you know many STIs have no symptoms? The only way to know for sure is by regularly visiting an LGBTQ-friendly testing center and holding your partner(s) accountable for doing the same. CDC recommends routine annual testing, but it depends on your sexual activity. Consult your healthcare provider to develop a frequency that works for you.
In the face of stigma and discrimination, it’s important to remember that there are many non-discriminatory resources available to help maintain a healthy sex life. You deserve access to care and resources that help you play safe! By familiarizing yourself with the current healthcare disparities facing the LGBTQ community and incorporating safer sex techniques, you can maintain stronger relationships and improve your sexual health.