246782 Diverse Sexual Behaviors among a Sample of over 4,000 Women who have Sex with Women

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 2:30 PM

Vanessa Schick, PhD , Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Joshua G. Rosenberger, PhD, MPH , Department of Global and Community Health, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH , Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Michael Reece, PhD , Dept of Applied Health Science, Indiana University-Bloomington, Bloomington, IN
Purpose: Despite popular notions that sexually transmitted infections in women are only spread through heterosexual contact, researchers have documented the transmission of STI between women. Yet, explanations regarding the mode of transmission between women continue to be limited by research with small, geographically limited sample sizes or inadequately theorized measures of sexual behavior. Thus, the present study was conducted in order to better understand the sexual repertoires of women who have sex with women (WSW) in a large, global sample of internet-using women.

Methods: English-speaking women were recruited globally to complete an internet-based survey. The sample consisted of 4,218 women who reported a history of sex with other women. Measures assessed sociodemographics, health-related indicators and recent/lifetime sexual behavior.

Results: Although the majority of participants indicated that they currently lived in the US (42.3%) or the UK (46.2%), participants spanned over 70 countries. Participants ranged in age from 18-72 (M=29.29, SD=9.23) with most of participants identifying as White (87.8%). The majority of the participants identified as lesbian/homosexual (68.6%), bisexual (17.9%) or queer (6.6%). The most commonly reported sexual behaviors with another female included: cunnilingus (92%), vaginal stimulation (92.2%), genital-on-genital rubbing (85.3%), vulva touching/rubbing (84.5%) and sex toy use (67.1%). Although penile-vaginal intercourse with a male was more prevalent amongst bisexual women (88.3%), many lesbian-identified women also reported a history of PVI (63.5%).

Conclusions: These data provide the first comprehensive global assessment of sexual behavior among WSW. Findings have implications for researchers, providers and educators who work with lesbian or bisexual populations.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the differences in types of sexual behavior among women who have sex with women. Explore the frequency of sexual acitivity among a traditionally understudied population. Examine the effectiveness of conducting research via the internet.

Keywords: Sex, Lesbian

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a social psychologist with training in public health. I collected the data and have analyzed the data. I have presented numerous presentations at similar conferences including APHA and have published in peer-reviewed journals on related topics.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.