Whatever your sexual orientation or gender identity, if you are sexually active you need to think about protecting yourself from sexually transmissible infections (STIs).
If you have a uterus and ovaries and any of your sexual partners have testicles, you might also want to think about contraception to help prevent pregnancy. Unless you have had surgery, which prevents you from getting pregnant or getting your partner pregnant, you need to use contraception if you don’t want a pregnancy.
Some people think that women who are having sex with women don’t have to worry about STIs or smear tests but this is not true. It’s the type of sexual contact you’re having, not your sexual orientation or gender identity that puts you at greater or lesser risk for STIs.
Contraceptives to prevent STIs
Barrier methods are the only contraceptives that are able to protect against the transmission of STIs. Condoms (and lube) offer the best protection if you are having anal sex, and oral latex dams are effective at preventing the transmission of STIs through oral sex. Dams can be purchased from our website or can be made simply by cutting open a condom or latex glove lengthways to cover the genital area (and don’t forget to use lube, genital side, with it).
You can get a prescription for condoms from Family Planning or your doctor, or you can buy them from our website, other online shops, pharmacies, supermarkets and other shops. You'll find internal condoms on our website too.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is an extremely common STI which can be transmitted through genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital and oral-anal sex. If you are under 26, you can get the HPV vaccine for free – no matter what gender or sex you are. This can help you to protect yourself against HPV and genital warts, and some cancers.
Contraceptives when you are on hormone therapy
While hormone therapy is known to reduce fertility both in those with ovaries and those with testicles, it is still possible to get pregnant/get someone pregnant. It is therefore important to still use contraceptives if you want to prevent pregnancy. It is possible to use hormonal contraceptives without it interfering with your hormone therapy, but if you would prefer to avoid these, there are other options too, such as the Copper IUD and condoms. Talk to your doctor about which option would be right for you.
Contraceptives and gender dysphoria
Sometimes using contraceptives that are appropriate for the anatomy you were born with can trigger gender dysphoria. Talk to your health care provider or local Family Planning clinic about finding the right method that causes you least discomfort or trauma. You may for example be able to be sedated while getting an IUD inserted. There are also some contraceptives which may in fact help with your gender dysphoria. If you don’t identify as female yet you menstruate every month, some methods can stop you getting your monthly periods. The hormonal IUD Mirena is a great option, as it is a ‘fit and forget’ type of contraceptive that lasts up to five years, is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy and suppresses menstruation. Another option is the Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill (aka the pill), which can prevent periods if you take the 21 hormone pills continuously and skip the non-hormone sugar pills. This is perfectly safe and the most effective way to take the pill.
Remember, you can always find supportive, non-judgmental sexual health advice and support at any Family Planning clinic throughout New Zealand.
Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.