The Truth about HPV Risk in Lesbians

April 3, 2018

Lesbians are known to have the lowest risk of getting HIV due in large part to the kinds of sexual activities (including oral sex) less commonly associated with disease.

Some have taken this to imply that lesbians are, generally speaking, less susceptible to other kinds of sexually transmitted infections such as human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus related to the growth of cervical cancer.

How HPV Can Be Spread 

The distinction between HIV and HPV is that the possibility of HIV is strongly associated with two things: vaginal sex and anal sex. By comparison, HPV is spread throughout the intimate skin-to-skin contact, including mutual masturbation (an activity that carries a negligible threat of HIV).

As such, HPV can be passed between two women as easily as between two men or a man and a girl. Penile penetration is not required. Skin-to-skin contact with an infected person is all it requires.

Exactly the identical susceptibility to HPV in heterosexual women is present in lesbians. In expression of sexual practices, those which offer the greatest likelihood of transmission in lesbians are:

  • Genital-to-genital contact
  • Touching the genitals of an infected spouse and then your
  • Sharing unsanitized sex toys

A number of studies have also suggested that HPV may be passed via oral-vaginal contact (cunnilingus) or from deep kissing, although there’s strong contention concerning the reliability of the research studies.

Reduce the Risk of HPV

There Are Numerous simple ways that lesbians can reduce their risk of spreading or getting HPV:

  • Using condoms on sex toys if you Intend to share them
  • Utilizing gloves (a finger ) when touching genitals
  • Limiting the Amount of sexual partners you have
  • Remaining in a monogamous relationship
  • Using dental dams in case you find any about warts or lesions around the genital or anus

Abstinence is also an alternative although normally unrealistic for many adults.

How to Find Out in the Event That You Have HPV 

Girls with HPV often discover they have HPV during a regular Pap smear. The Pap smear is able to detect cervical changes caused by the virus, a few of which may lead to cervical cancer. Sometimes, a genital wart may be present (a symptom commonly associated with particular forms of HPV).

Having abnormalities in cervical tissue (called dysplasia) doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get cancer. Just a handful of HPV strains is associated with cancer and even fewer response with genital warts. In most instance, HPV will resolve by themselves without medical care.

Regrettably, there’s a popular misconception among some that lesbians do not need Pap smears. This is totally untrue. All girls have to have routine Pap screening, irrespective of sexual orientation. Recent guidelines from the American Cancer Society recommend that all women start her first Pap smear three years after beginning sexual activity or by age 21, whichever comes first.

The HPV test is another way of detecting HPV. Rather than checking changes, this test looks for the actual presence of the virus in a cervical swab.

The Pap and HPV test can be carried out in the same time. Women 30 decades of age and more are advised to retest every three years. Women at greater risk or people with dysplasia will normally need more regular observation.

Diseases Caused by HPV Strains

You will find over 150 different breeds of the HPV virus of which 30 or more are sexually transmitted. It is thought that virtually every sexually active person — whether male or female, heterosexual or homosexual — will get at least one form of HPV within the course of a life.

Of the forms most commonly associated with cancer and genital warts:

  • HPV 16 and 18 are connected to 70 percent of cervical cancer analyses. HPV 16 is the also most frequent strain associated with head and neck cancers. Another 20 percent are linked to HPV 31, 33, 34, 45, 52, and 58.
  • HPV 6 and 11 account for approximately 90 percent of genital wart outbreaks.

Vaccinating Against HPV

For individuals between the ages of 26, immunizations are available which can protect against some of the higher risk HPV strains. These include:

  • Gardasil (accepted in 2006) which protects against HPV 6, 11, 16 and 18
  • Cervarix (approved in 2009) which protects against HPV 16 and 18
  • Gardasil 9 (approved 2014) which protects against HPV 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58

A Word From Verywell

Lesbians are at as much risk for HPV as exclusively heterosexual girls. Don’t assume that non-penetrative sex puts you at less risk for HPV. Make sure that you’re routinely screened for the virus and any changes in cervical tissue are closely monitored. By doing so, you can greatly improve your chance of cervical cancer, as well as additional HPV-related malignancies.