College Women and Risk of STDS

Amy Hendel Health Guide
  • It's a topic that isn't talked about a whole lot and frankly, as an expert, I don't have a lot of experience firsthand with patients who are bi-sexual - but an important recent study reveals that bisexual college women are at greatest risk for STDs, when compared to their heterosexual and lesbian counterparts.

     

    This study looked at 30,000 sexually active college women and it noted that bisexual women were 60% more likely to have a sexually transmitted disease than were their heterosexual fellow female students, and 4 times more likely to report an STD than were lesbian women.  Researchers were not clear as to whether it's the gender of their sexual partners, the actual number of their sexual partners, or the combination of these two factors that seems to increase the STD frequency.  

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    The study also looked at specific groups and certain observations were noted:

     

    • College women who only had sex with men during the year prior to the compilation of the data, averaged 2 partners, as did the women with lesbian relationships.

     

    • Women who had sex with both genders reported an average of 5 sexual partners.

     

    When the research looked at specific STDs (HPV/genital warts, Chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea and/or HIV) the only significant difference seemed to be the rate of occurence of HPV/genital warts -

     

    Lesbians were the least likely to report this STD, while heterosexual women had a fourfold increased risk and bisexual women had a six-fold increased risk and women who could not be sure about their sexual orientation had a five-fold increased risk of HPV/genital warts.

     

    Women who only had sex with women had a 4% incidence of multiple STDs; women who only had sex with men had a 5% incidence of STDs and women who had sex with both genders had a 15% incidence of multiple STDs.

     

    When it came to routine gynecologic exams, lesbians were the least likely to have had an exam in the past year (46%), while 73% of heterosexual women and 67% of bisexual women did have an exam.  So it is possible more lesbian women had STDs, but it wouldn't necessarily be reported because of their lower rates of professional examinations.  The study seemed to encourage researchers to get the word out to lesbians to get regular gynecologic exams and PAP smears and to practice safe sex and get more information on specific STD risks.   It was also clear from the study and compilation of data that the labels "bisexual," "lesbian," and "heterosexual" were not quite clear cut.  Some lesbian women might have had a couple of male partners and some bisexual women actually leaned mostly if not exclusively in the prior year to single gender sexual partners. 

     

    If you are a female in college, then at minimum get a yearly gynecologic check up and share your sexual history in confidence with your doctor so you can, together, make some important decisions about testing, birth control and other health issues.

     

Published On: August 17, 2008