Sigma Research

Lesbian and Bisexual women’s sex survey

Duration: April 2000 - September 2000

In Britain until very recently, very little research into Lesbian and Bisexual women's sexual health had been conducted. As a result, not much is known about their sexual behaviour or sexual health needs.

The survey used a short self-completion questionnaire (two-sides of A4) to recruit a total of 1,911 women from Lesbian and Gay pride-type festivals in London (n=1,179), Brighton (n=455) and Leeds (n=429). Women were approached by recruiters and invited to complete the survey on the spot using a clipboard with pen attached. The inclusion criteria for the survey was women, 16 years or older and resident in the UK and either: homosexually active in last twelve months, and / or Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual identity.

The study examined sexual behaviour among Lesbian and Bisexual women, including the gender and number of their casual and regular sexual partners; sources of new sexual partners and frequency of sex. It also examined relationship issues including monogamy and the value given to various aspects of sex and the potential harm associated with it.

The report of the study concludes that while Lesbian (and to a lesser extent Bisexual women) are probably less likely to be subject to sexually transmitted infections and unwanted conceptions, a non-medicalised understanding of sexual health indicates considerable unmet need, particularly around creating and sustaining sexual relationships. Lesbians need access to all sexual health services that any other woman requires. Currently the ability to deliver a tailored service in a sensitive, appropriate and equitable manner appears to be woefully lacking among service providers, particularly in primary care settings.

The final report was called First, service: relationships, sex and health among Lesbian and Bisexual women.

Download questionnaire (PDF format)

Key contact: Ford Hickson