This section has information on sexual health (birth control and STI prevention), as well as tips on navigating dating apps as a LGBTQA+ individual. 

The bottom half of this page outlines steps to maintain individual sexual health by providing tips for before, during, and after sex. The general steps are applicable to any sexually active person, regardless how they identify. That being said, there are some tips directed towards LGBTQA+ community members and their partners included in the outlines.

Sexual Health and Safety

Dating Apps

Dating apps can help find long-term partners or casual hookups; and are particularly popular among young adults and LGBTQ people. LGBTQ people are also more likely than straight people to say they have been harassed on a dating platform (check out this Vice article). The world of LGBTQ dating apps can be very confusing, several outlets including the Washington Post and Mashable have published guides to LGBTQ dating apps, but you should do research on the culture and anti-discrimination policies of any apps before you join them. Here is a useful guide of tips for using dating apps safely.

 
 

STIs and Unwanted Pregnancy Prevention

Some core tenets of healthy sex are prevention of STI transmission, prevention of unwanted pregnancy, and consent. LGBTQ people tend to have a higher risk of STIs than the general population, but knowing how to avoid them can help protect you and your sexual partners. There are plenty of ways that LGBTQ people can have sex with an egg and sperm involved, so you should know how to avoid unwanted pregnancy.

 

A common misconception is that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can make you sterile; however, people assigned female at birth on testosterone may still be able to get pregnant and people assigned male at birth taking estrogen or other HRT may still be able to get partners pregnant. Planned parenthood has some suggestions (video at right) for healthy conversations about sex with your partner(s) and a guide to consent

Here we provide some steps for LGBTQ people to have a healthy and safe sex life! A useful resource for trans and nonbinary people that goes beyond the scope of what’s discussed here is Safer Sex for Trans Bodies, a pamphlet (seen at right) released by the HRC Foundation in partnership with Whitman-Walker Health that provides a comprehensive guide of sexual health for trans people and their partners.

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Before Sex

  • Make sure you are up to date on your vaccines, particularly the HPV vaccine, and Hepatitis A (for anyone that engages in anal sex) and B vaccines. Discuss with a doctor what vaccines you should receive.

  • Get tested for STIs. The CDC recommends that

    • All sexually active people with vaginas (including those who have sex with people with vaginas) should get tested for gonorrhea, HIV, and chlamydia every year.

    • People with penises who have sex with people with penises, as well as all men who have sex with men, should get tested for syphilis, chlamydia, HIV, and gonorrhea at least once a year, with more often testing based on sexual activity.

    • There are no uniform guidelines for nonbinary or trans people, you should ask a health care provider about a recommended testing schedule based on your anatomy and sexual activity.

  • If you are at high risk of HIV (for example, a cis man who has sex with men or a transgender woman) you should consider the antiretroviral medication PrEP (pre-exposure HIV prophylaxis). PrEP can be more than 90% effective at preventing HIV. Some basic resources to learn more about PrEP can be found from the CDC, Planned Parenthood, and at PrEPfacts.org. If you think PrEP could be right for you, you should ask your doctor or a doctor at a sexual health clinic for more information. A local expert in this topic is the Chase Brexton Health Clinic, you can also contact the Student Health and Wellness Center to learn more!

Hormonal birth control

You can find more information on hormonal methods on the Birth Control Page. Although many methods of hormonal birth control are safe and effective for people on Testosterone, if you are taking Testosterone you should discuss it with a doctor to determine what methods are right for you before taking hormonal birth control.

 

Hormonal birth control is not an effective alternative to HRT; although it may be used to help manage gender dysphoria, for example through the regulation of menstruation. You should discuss it with a doctor to help weigh the effects and side effects of hormonal birth control before using it for that purpose. An important note is that hormonal birth control is only effective at preventing pregnancy and cannot prevent STIs.

During Sex

  • Consistent and correct condom use can significantly reduce the risk of STI transmission. There are three major types of condoms: internal condoms, external condoms, and dental dams. 

    • If it breaks, immediately replace the condom and consider post-exposure methods.

    • More information about this barrier method can be found on the Birth Control Page.

    • A dental dam is a latex sheet that is used between the mouth and vagina/anus during oral sex. It is similar to an external condom in how it works with a penis. Dental dams can be made from a condom, and also can be purchased at a drugstore.

    • Capes are another barrier method used by those with t-penises (t-penis refers to a clitoris enlarged due to testosterone). One can easily make a cape from a disposable glove by cutting off the fingers and the side opposite of the thumb sleeve, so just the thumb part of the glove remains. Then place the cape over the t-penis.

      • As a note, if you have a t-penis and are using testosterone cream, use barrier protection while the cream is on your skin.​

  • Lube:

    • Lube can be used to reduce friction and facilitate sensation during sex.

    • More information about this can be found on the Pleasure and Sex Page

  • Spermicide:

    • Spermicide can be used along with condoms as an extra layer of protection against unwanted pregnancy

    • More information about this barrier method can be found on the Birth Control Page.

After Sex

  • Birth Control:

    •  More information about post-sex birth control can be found on the Birth Control Page, including places where you can get it. It also contains information about what to do if you think you may be pregnant.

  • PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis)

    • PEP can be used in emergency situations to prevent HIV after exposure. You must start taking PEP within 72 hours after exposure, so if you think you may have been exposed to HIV speak to a healthcare provider, emergency room doctor, or urgent care provider immediately about starting PEP. PEP is for emergency situations and should not be used instead of other HIV prevention methods. More info can be found on the CDC and Planned Parenthood websites.

  • More testing!

    •  If you think you might have been exposed to an STI during sex, you should get tested, even if it means testing more often than recommended.

 

  • If diagnosed with STI

    • If you have been diagnosed with an STI you should tell all of your most recent sexual partners. You should discuss treatment options with a doctor, many STIs such as chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, crabs, and trichomoniasis can be cured. Others such as HPV, HIV, and herpes, cannot be cured but can be treated and managed, especially if caught early. This is why frequent testing can be really important. 

    • The CDC has several resources on living with HIV here, Planned Parenthood also has advice for living with HIV here. If someone with HIV’s viral load is undetectable, then it is also untransmittable (U=U). Antiretroviral therapy can help lower the HIV viral load under detectable levels and so should be started as soon as possible after diagnosis. 

    • Planned Parenthood also has advice for living with herpes.