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Sexual behaviour and risk reduction strategies among a multinational sample of women who have sex with women
  1. Vanessa Schick1,
  2. Joshua G Rosenberger2,
  3. Debby Herbenick1,
  4. Michael Reece1
  1. 1Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA
  2. 2Department of Global and Community Health, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Vanessa Schick, Center for Sexual Health Promotion Indiana, University, 1025 E. 7th St., HPER 116, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA; vschick{at}


Objectives The development of safer sex recommendations for women who have sex with women (WSW) remains challenging given a limited understanding of sexual behaviour between women. The present study was conducted in order to investigate the sexual repertoires of WSW and the safer sex methods they use to reduce the likelihood of sexually transmitted infection acquisition.

Methods An online survey targeted towards women with desire, attraction or previous sexual behaviour with women was distributed globally. Women (N=3116) who engaged in at least one sexual act with a woman in the previous year and were currently living in the USA, UK, Canada or Australia were included in the present study. Questions were based upon previously validated items in nationally representative studies.

Results Participants indicated a wide diversity of sexual behaviours with the majority of women reporting a history of genital rubbing (99.8%), vaginal fingering (99.2%), genital scissoring (90.8%), cunnilingus (98.8%) and vibrator use (74.1%). Barrier use was reported by a minority (<25%) of the participants.

Conclusions The variety of sexual acts reported by the sample points to the need for the development of more contextually appropriate sexual health guidelines for WSW.

  • Sexual behaviour
  • women who have sex with women
  • WSW
  • risk reduction
  • bisexual
  • sexual experience
  • sexual health
  • lesbians
  • gay men
  • homosexuality
  • public health
  • sexuality
  • social

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  • Funding Vanessa Schick was partially funded by a Developmental Award granted by the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by Indiana University-Bloomington.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.