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Introduction: The diversity in self-identified lesbian and bisexual women's sexual interactions necessitates better understanding of how and when they integrate personal lubricant into different experiences. However, little is known about lesbian and bisexual women's lifetime lubricant use, particularly at the population level. Aims: The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence and characteristics of lubricant use among adult lesbian and bisexual women in the United States. Methods: Data were drawn from a subset of lesbian and bisexual participants who participated in the 2012 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, an online questionnaire administered to a nationally representative probability sample of U.S. adults ages 18 and older. Main outcome measures: We examined socio-demographic characteristics, recent and lifetime lubricant use, lubricant use in associated with specific sexual behaviors and condom use, frequency of use, motivations for use, as well as perception of lubricant when used. Results: A majority of lesbian- (60.1%) and bisexual-identified (77.1%) women reported ever using lubricant; 25.7% of lesbian women and 32.7% of bisexual women used it in the last 30 days. Across most age groups, lubricant was commonly used during partnered sexual play, partnered sexual intercourse, or when a vibrator/dildo was used. Lesbian and bisexual women reported using lubricants to increase arousal/sexual pleasure/desire, to make sex more fun, or to increase physical comfort during sex. Conclusions: Lubricant use is identified as a part of lesbian and bisexual women's sexual experience across the life span, as a part of both solo and partnered experiences. As part of evolving sexual health assessments, clinicians and health educators may find value in integrating lubricant-focused conversation with their lesbian and bisexual patients and clients, particularly.

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... In addition, accurate language is important because the words people use to describe an activity help shape the meaning they ascribe to it [32]. A woman having access to a wider stimulation and penetration vocabulary may increase her satisfaction with her sexual communication with partners [51,52], which in turn may have positive implications for both relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction [53][54][55]. ...
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Research on the sexual lives of bisexually-identified women tends to focus on their heightened risk for sexually transmitted infection acquisition. The development of effective, tailored interventions would benefit from detailed behavior estimates from a large sample of bisexual women. Thus, this study collected sexual behavior data from 710 bisexually-identified women. When possible, items were adapted from the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior. Approximately equal proportions of participants reported no recent (past 30 days) sexual partners, male sexual partners only, female sexual partners only and male and female sexual partners. The majority of participants reported a diverse sexual repertoire.
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Introduction. Although lubricant use is commonly recommended to women for solo and partnered sexual activities, little is known about women's use of lubricant or their relationship to sexual pleasure and satisfaction. Aim. The aim of this study was to assess: (i) how adult women used lubricant during partnered and solo sexual activities; (ii) relations between women's reports of sexual pleasure and satisfaction and their use of a lubricant during a particular sexual event; and (iii) to what extent lubricant use was associated with subsequent genital symptoms. Methods. A total of 2,453 women completed a 5-week internet-based, double-blind prospective daily diary study in which they were assigned to use one of six water- or silicone-based lubricants. Main Outcome Measures. Baseline data included demographics, contraceptive use, and sexual behavior during the 4 weeks prior to study enrollment. Daily diary data included reports of penile–vaginal sex, penile–anal sex, solo sex, lubricant use, lubricant application, ratings of sexual pleasure and satisfaction, and genital symptoms. Results. Water-based lubricants were associated with fewer genital symptoms compared with silicone-based lubricants. In addition, the use of a water-based or silicone-based lubricant was associated with higher ratings of sexual pleasure and satisfaction for solo sex and penile–vaginal sex. Water-based lubricant use was associated with higher ratings of sexual pleasure and satisfaction for penile–anal sex as compared with no lubricant use. Conclusion. The water- and silicone-based lubricants used in this study were associated with significantly higher reports of sexual pleasure and satisfaction and rarely associated with genital symptoms. Herbenick D, Reece M, Hensel D, Sanders S, Jozkowski K, and Fortenberry JD. Association of lubricant use with women's sexual pleasure, sexual satisfaction, and genital symptoms: A prospective daily diary study. J Sex Med 2011;8:202–212.
Article
Objective: The assumption that self-identified lesbians are at low risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and other gynecological infections may be premised upon infrequent screening, ignorance of lesbian sexual practices, and the discomfort that lesbians may feel concerning the disclosure of their sexual identity and behavior. We hypothesize that transmission between women may occur, and actual risk may depend upon the sexual behaviors as well as the number and gender of partners. Methods: In 1994, the Family Planning Council of Western Massachusetts developed a Lesbian Health Needs Assessment Survey. The Fenway Community Health Center (FCHC) supplemented the survey with a one-page STD questionnaire aimed at evaluating STD testing, diagnoses, and sexual practices among self-identified lesbian and bisexual women. Circulated only in eastern Massachusetts, 421 of the 1523 surveys, including the one-page STD supplement, that were distributed were returned. The prevalence of specific STDs among women with and without recent male sexual partners was compared and analyzed in relation to self-reported sexual behavior. Results: Among lesbians who denied having prior male sexual partners, the following gynecological infections were reported: trichomoniasis, anogenital warts, and abnormal Pap smears. The most commonly reported sexual practices were digital–vaginal penetration, oral–oral, oral–genital, and genital–genital contact. Conclusions: Probable woman-to-woman transmission of STDs and vaginitis was frequently reported. Although the true incidence of specific infections among lesbians is unknown, routine screening should be offered to sexually active lesbians.
Article
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. 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. 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. 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.
Article
Women who have sex with women (WSW) comprise a diverse group of people who evidence a spectrum of sexual identity, sexual behaviors, sexual practices, and risk behaviors. WSW are at risk of acquiring a diversity of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from current and prior partners, both male and female. Notably, human papillomavirus (HPV) is sexually transmitted between female partners, and Pap smear guidelines should be followed in this group. Bacterial vaginosis is common among WSW. WSW should not be presumed to be at low or no risk for STIs based on sexual orientation, and reporting of same sex behavior by women should not deter providers from considering and performing screening for STIs, including Chlamydia trachomatis, according to current guidelines. Effective delivery of sexual health services to WSW requires a comprehensive and open discussion of sexual and behavioral risks, beyond sexual identity, between care providers and their female clients.
Article
There are few studies examining the relationship between lubricant use and sexual functioning, and no studies have examined this relationship in women with dyspareunia. Vaginal dryness is a prevalent complaint among women of all ages. There is an association between vaginal dryness and painful intercourse; therefore, women with dyspareunia represent a particularly relevant sample of women in which to investigate lubricant use. The aim of this study was to examine differences between women with and without dyspareunia in self-reported natural lubrication and attitudes toward and use of personal lubricants. Respondents completed an online survey including questions on demographics, gynecological/medical history, sexual functioning, and lubricant use and attitudes. The main outcome measures used were the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) and questions regarding attitudes toward and use of lubricants. Controls scored higher on the lubrication subscale of the FSFI than women with dyspareunia (P < 0.001). Women with dyspareunia reported greater frequency of lubricant use during sexual activity over the last year (P < 0.01). They were also more likely to use lubricant prior to penetration (P < 0.05). The most common use for controls was to enhance sexual experiences. This was also a common answer for women with dyspareunia; however, in this group, the most common reason was to reduce/alleviate pain. Lubricants were rated as less effective among women with dyspareunia vs. controls across all reported reasons for use. Nevertheless, lubricant use was still rated as being moderately effective in alleviating pain for women with dyspareunia. Women with dyspareunia have more difficulty with natural lubrication; it is consequently not surprising that they reported using lubricant more frequently than control women. Women with dyspareunia reported using lubricants more often than controls to try to prevent or alleviate pain and reported this as being a moderately effective strategy, suggesting that it may be a useful tool for some women with dyspareunia.
Article
Research suggests that vibrator use may be more prevalent among lesbian/bisexual-identified women. However, previous research has been limited by small samples of lesbian- and bisexual-identified women and has not focused specifically on the characteristics of vibrator use between women. The present study was designed in order to develop a comprehensive understanding of women's use of vibrators with their female sexual partners and to understand the extent to which vibrator use is related to their sexual experiences. Data were collected via a cross-sectional web-based survey from 2,192 women living in the United States and the United Kingdom. All participants reported engaging in sexual behavior with only women in the previous year. Sociodemographic characteristics, vibrator use history, vibrator use perceptions, and the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI). Over three-quarters of women in the sample reported a history of vibrator use during solo masturbation/with a female partner and over a quarter of the sample reported use in the previous month. Participants who were older, white, and in a long-term relationship were the most likely to use a vibrator with a female partner in the previous year. Vibrator use lifetime history was unrelated to all FSFI subscales with the exception of pain for lesbian and queer-identified women. In contrast to lifetime use, participants who used a vibrator with a female sexual partner in the previous month scored higher on several of the FSFI domains than women who reported no vibrator use or vibrator use only during solo masturbation in the past month. Vibrator use was common among this sample of women who have sex with women. Women who reported recent vibrator use with other women had higher mean sexual functioning scores than women who reported no vibrator use or vibrator use only during masturbation. Implications for health-care providers are discussed.
Article
Past surveys of sexual behavior have demonstrated that female sexual behavior is influenced by medical and sociocultural changes. To be most attentive to women and their sexual lives, it is important to have an understanding of the continually evolving sexual behaviors of contemporary women in the United States. The purpose of this study, the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB), was to, in a national probability survey of women ages 18-92, assess the proportion of women in various age cohorts who had engaged in solo and partnered sexual activities in the past 90 days and to explore associations with participants' sexual behavior and their relationship and perceived health status. Past year frequencies of masturbation, vaginal intercourse, and anal intercourse were also assessed. A national probability sample of 2,523 women ages 18 to 92 completed a cross-sectional internet based survey about their sexual behavior. Relationship status; perceived health status; experience of solo masturbation, partnered masturbation, giving oral sex, receiving oral sex, vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, in the past 90 days; frequency of solo masturbation, vaginal intercourse, and anal intercourse in the past year. Recent solo masturbation, oral sex, and vaginal intercourse were prevalent among women, decreased with age, and varied in their associations with relationship and perceived health status. Recent anal sex and same-sex oral sex were uncommonly reported. Solo masturbation was most frequent among women ages 18 to 39, vaginal intercourse was most frequent among women ages 18 to 29 and anal sex was infrequently reported. Contemporary women in the United States engage in a diverse range of solo and partnered sexual activities, though sexual behavior is less common and more infrequent among older age cohorts.
Article
Little is known about women's use of vibrators within sexual partnerships. Data were collected from a population-based, cross-sectional survey of 2056 women aged 18-60 years in the United States. Partnered vibrator use was common among heterosexual-, lesbian-, and bisexual-identified women. Most vibrator users indicated comfort using them with a partner and vibrator use was related to positive sexual function as measured by the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI). In addition, partner knowledge and perceived liking of vibrator use was a significant predictor of sexual satisfaction for heterosexual women (p < .01). Clinical and research implications are discussed.
Article
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be spread between female sex partners, probably through the exchange of cervicovaginal fluid and direct mucosal contact. Additionally, lesbians have a high prevalence of bacterial vaginosis, which may represent an STD in this population. However, few data on sexual practices or perceived STD risk among lesbians are available to guide development of interventions aimed at reducing the risk. To inform the development of a safer-sex intervention for women who have sex with women, focus group discussions were conducted with 23 lesbian and bisexual women aged 18-29. Topics included sexual practices, STD transmission and prevention, and knowledge about bacterial vaginosis. Although six participants had had bacterial vaginosis and three an STD, women reported little use of preventive measures with female partners (washing hands, using rubber gloves and cleaning sex toys). Participants said that vaginal penetrative practices using sex toys and fingers or hands are common, and that partners frequently share sex toys during a sexual encounter, generally without condoms. Knowledge of potential for STD transmission between women, and of bacterial vaginosis, was limited. Participants viewed use of barrier methods (gloves or condoms) as acceptable, provided that there is a reason (usually STD-focused) to use them and that they are promoted in the context of sexual health and pleasure. Safer-sex messages aimed at lesbian and bisexual women should emphasize the plausibility of STD transmission between women, personal responsibility and care for partners' well-being; should target common sexual practices; and should promote healthy sexuality.
Article
Research on vaginal microbicides for HIV prevention is progressing rapidly; the first large-scale effectiveness trials were launched in 2004. The majority of candidate microbicides are formulated as gels, which will act as lubricants when used during sex. Preferences and practices regarding lubrication during sex, therefore, likely influence microbicide acceptability and use. Researchers seek to maximize consistent and correct use of candidate microbicides during clinical trials to enable valid estimates of product effectiveness, and if proven effective, microbicides will be widely used only if acceptable. We conducted a comprehensive literature review and interviewed 13 key informants from nine countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and North America. We found that norms and practices regarding lubrication during sex exist in many different countries. Despite significant variation, common themes emerged. In the majority of countries, women's genital hygiene is highly valued, and women are expected to achieve a moderate amount of vaginal lubrication during sex that is neither excessive nor inadequate. Women may try to achieve this by engaging in a wide variety of vaginal practices. Even though some informants expressed concerns about the acceptability of lubricating microbicides in some settings, they thought that microbicides should be developed, that women and men may be willing to accept a certain level of increased lubrication in exchange for protection from HIV, and that lubricating microbicides may be considered more acceptable when perceived as genital hygiene products. Recommendations are made on how to take vaginal practices into account during clinical testing of microbicides.
Article
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) may increase women's susceptibility to HIV infection, but there are few prospective data. During follow-up for up to 36 months, 86 new HIV seroconverters (case patients) were identified among 5110 women enrolled in a cervical cancer screening trial. Nonseroconverting control subjects (n=324) were frequency matched to case patients by age and duration of follow-up. At enrollment, case patients and control subjects were evaluated for clinical signs of BV, and Gram stains of vaginal fluid were scored using Nugent criteria. BV was diagnosed on the basis of clinical criteria at enrollment in 20% of seroconverters and 16% of control subjects (summary odds ratio [OR], 1.31 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 0.71-2.41]). Nugent criteria for BV were met by 74% of seroconverters and 62% of control subjects. Diagnosis of BV on the basis of Nugent criteria was significantly associated with an increased risk of HIV seroconversion, after adjustment for demographic characteristics, other sexually transmitted infections, and sexual behaviors (adjusted OR, 2.01 [95% CI, 1.12-3.62]). BV may account for a substantial fraction of new HIV infections in this setting. Treatment of BV and other interventions to promote normal vaginal flora warrant attention for HIV prevention.
Psychology of women: A handbook of issues and theories
  • Fassinger RE
  • Arseneau JR