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Sexual Health Tips for the Bi+ Community and Best Practices for Providers

Written in collaboration with the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts

Having Safer Sex

The same general guidelines for having safer sex apply to everyone who engages in sexual activities, no matter their sexual orientation.

  • Use the relevant type of protection that aligns with the anatomy of the partner(s) with whom you are sexually active. Remember, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact or fluid exchange. Oral, vaginal, and anal sex carry varying risk for STIs and pregnancy, and sharing sex toys can share STIs.
  • Get tested for STIs and share your results with your partner(s). You could even make it a practice to go together to get tested.
  • Communicate with your partner(s) as needed before, during, and after a sexual encounter to ensure everyone is comfortable and consenting to all activities.

 

See the Resources section for more general sexual health information.

Talking to Your Provider

To ensure that you’re getting the right care, it’s important to be honest with your healthcare provider about your sexual orientation and sexual behaviors. This may feel challenging if you don’t currently have health insurance or if you’re not sure if your provider is bi+ affirming. Below are a few tips that can help, and they apply not only when you’re accessing sexual healthcare, but also any other type of care related to your relationships and sex life, such as therapy, fertility, and primary care.

  • If you don’t currently have health insurance, visit Out2Enroll (out2enroll.org) for information and help enrolling.
  • If you’re seeking a bi+ afrming provider, ask friends in the bi+ community for suggestions. Facebook groups (like “Queer Exchange [name of major city near you]”) often have active threads for sharing experiences and recommendations. See the Resources section for additional information about fnding an afrming provider.
  • Your provider should ask you about your sexual behaviors at least once a year at your physical. If you are sexually active, it is important to note the anatomy of your partner(s). It may be helpful to write down things like your pronouns, sexual orientation, or any questions you have before your appointment. Your provider can recommend the appropriate care once they’re aware of your specific situation.
  • Ask your provider if birth control or STI/HIV prevention medications may be right for you.

Safer Sex Tips

  • External condoms can be used on penises and sex toys for oral, vaginal, and anal sex
  • Internal condoms can be used in vaginas and anuses for penetration by a penis or toy
  • Dental dams can be used for oral sex on vulvas (the area outside/around a vagina) and anuses (this act is sometimes called rimming)
  • Latex-free gloves and latex-safe lubricant are also great additions to an inclusive safer sex kit!


For more info about use, access, or alternatives, check out the Resources list below.

Tips for Healthcare Providers

Bi+ patients are less likely to come out to healthcare providers than lesbians or gay men. This lower rate of disclosure among bi+ patients is likely influenced by the amount of bisexual erasure and bi+ antagonisim that the bi+ community frequently experiences in broader society. As a result of not disclosing, the health of bi+ patients may suffer since their health needs are unique. You can help change this by following the guidelines below:

  • Ask your patients how they identify their gender and sexual orientation, and about their current sexual behavior. Making assumptions about any of these is detrimental to physical and mental health.
  • A patient’s sexual orientation and sexual behavior may or may not align, so don’t label a patient’s sexual orientation based on their sexual behavior. For example, labeling a patient a lesbian because she identifies as a woman and has only been sexually active with women for several years erases other ways she might identify, like bi+.
  • Be explicit when asking about a patient’s sexual behavior, as the gender of a patient’s partner does not indicate that partner’s anatomy. You can define terms as needed for your purposes; for example: “Do you have vaginal sex, meaning penis in vagina sex?”
  • If you make a mistake, such as using the wrong pronouns or mislabeling a patient’s sexuality, apologize, correct yourself, and move on. Dwelling on a mistake will only make the situation more uncomfortable for your patient.

References

The Human Rights Campaign. (2015). “Health Disparities Among Bisexual People.
The Bisexual Resource Center. (2019). “Mental Health in the Bi+ Community.” PDF Download

Resources

Advocates for Youth (general sexual health tips)
advocatesforyouth.org/wp-content/uploads/storage/advfy/documents/std-brochure.pdf

CDC (find a testing location)
gettested.cdc.gov

Healthline (find an affirming provider)
healthline.com/health/mental-health/find-lgbtq-ally-health-provider

National Domestic Violence Hotline
thehotline.org

The Network/LA Red (LGBTQIA+, BDSM, and polyamorous anti-violence resource)
tnlr.org

Oh Joy Sex Toy (sex-positive educational comics)
ohjoysextoy.com

Out2Enroll (enroll in health insurance)
out2enroll.org

Planned Parenthood (sexual health info and access to affirming care)
plannedparenthood.org