Use of barrier protection for sexual activity among women who have sex with women

Tami S. Rowen, Benjamin N. Breyer, Tzu Chin Lin, Chin-Shang Li, Patricia A. Robertson, Alan W Shindel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the frequency and associations of barrier protection use during sexual activity in a population of women who have sex with women (WSW). Methods: WSW were invited to participate in an international internet-based survey. Information regarding ethnodemographics, sexual health, and barrier use during sexual activities was collected. Results: The study cohort comprised 1557 participants. Barrier use was least prevalent during digital genital stimulation (11.3% ever used barriers) and most prevalent during stimulation with a sex toy (34.4% ever used barriers). Univariate analysis revealed that women in non-monogamous relationships were more likely than monogamous women to always use barrier protection for sexual activity (14.3% vs 3.5%). On multivariate analysis, there was no association between barrier use and frequency of casual sexual activity or history of sexually transmitted infection. Small associations were noted between barrier use and certain sexual activities, age, race, and number of partners. Conclusion: Many WSW do not use barrier protection during sexual activity, even in the context of potentially risky sexual behaviors. Safer-sex practices among WSW merit increased attention from healthcare providers and public health researchers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-45
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Barriers
  • Homosexuality
  • Lesbian health
  • Prevention
  • Sexual health
  • Women who have sex with women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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