For the Healthcare Community
Why have a whole web site (and organization!) devoted to lesbian health and research? After all, don’t lesbians and bisexual women and trans individuals face the same health issues as heterosexual women? The answer to this well-meaning query is an emphatic “No.”
Lack of Access
A study conducted by the Institute of Medicine in 1999 concluded lesbians are an underserved population. What’s more, when lesbians do access the health care system, it’s often later and less frequently than heterosexual women do for screenings and preventive care.
Discrimination in Healthcare
Lesbians often avoid the health care system because we fear or have experienced discrimination based on our sexual orientation. Such avoidance means we’re less likely to seek timely treatment, placing us at higher risk, especially for otherwise preventable health conditions. Unfortunately there IS discrimination against us, so it is important to educate ourselves to ensure we have the best possible experiences when seeking care.
Different Health Problems
Of course, anyone can develop health problems regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. However, lesbian, bisexual women, transgendered people and people who identify as queer (LBTQ people) may be more prone to some health problems than the population at large. Although much more research is needed, LBTQ people appear to be slightly more prone to developing breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer, and experiencing stress-related conditions like obesity, smoking-related illnesses and mental health conditions (such as anxiety disorders, depression and substance use disorders).
In addition, our population is definitely more prone to experiencing discrimination, prejudice, rejection from loved ones and hatred, and these experiences may have an important negative influence on our trust level with clinicians and our actual health status.
What You Can Do
Educate yourself about the LBTQ community and the health issues we encounter. Request culturally appropriate registration forms and health care services. Work with us to develop practice-based guidelines on lesbian health care and conduct research on relevant health-related topics. Visit this website often to stay up-to-date on research and breaking news and recent developments in clinical practices.