Lesbian and bisexual women encounter a number of serious health issues.

Lesbian and bisexual women encounter a number of serious health issues.

The following are some of the most common health concerns among lesbian and bisexual women, according to research. While not all of them apply to all lesbian and bisexual women, they are essential problems to be aware of for lesbian and bisexual women and their health care professionals.

Exam the Breast

Lesbian and bisexual women are more likely than heterosexual women to acquire breast cancer, but they are less likely to have routine cancer screenings, such as mammograms, which are used to diagnose the disease in its early stages. This is a major issue because early detection is critical for disease treatment and boosts a woman's chances of remission.

Violence Against Intimate Partners

While many people do not equate same-sex relationships with intimate partner abuse, data reveal that it is a significant issue for lesbian and bisexual women. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 43.8 percent of lesbian women and 61.1 percent of bisexual women had suffered rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 35 percent of heterosexual women. Barriers to accessing support services, a lack of training among care providers, and discrimination in shelters exacerbate the problem.

Abuse of Substances

Lesbian and bisexual women, on average, drink more than heterosexual women and are more likely to develop alcohol-related issues such as alcoholism and abuse. Lesbian and bisexual women also have greater rates of smoking, cocaine, and marijuana usage than heterosexual women, according to research. The use and abuse of these chemicals has been related to a variety of cancers as well as heart and lung diseases, which are the top three causes of mortality in women.

Rates of drug use, like some of the other health difficulties that lesbian and bisexual women face, may be linked to stress caused by discrimination, homophobia, and/or sexism.

Obesity

Obesity is more common among lesbian and bisexual women than among heterosexual women. Obesity has been linked to other diseases such as heart disease and cancer, both of which are among the top causes of death in women.

Obesity can be reduced with regular exercise and a nutritious diet, but women should always consult their health care professionals before starting an exercise routine or making drastic dietary changes.

Sexual Well-Being

Some health care practitioners may presume lesbian and bisexual women are heterosexual when addressing their sexual health because of heteronormativity, the belief that heterosexuality is the norm. It's also possible to infer that a woman in a current same-sex relationship has never had sex with a guy or would never have it. Because of these and other stereotypes, it's critical for providers to avoid making assumptions about their patients' identities and behaviors, and for lesbian and bisexual women to be open and honest with their providers about their identities — whether or not their provider asks — in order to receive the adequate, comprehensive care they require. When discussing sexual behavior, habits, and partners, this is extremely important.

Lesbian and bisexual women's health concerns may go unnoticed by health care practitioners who are unfamiliar with LGBT health since it is assumed that women in same-sex partnerships have less occurrences of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, lesbian and bisexual women's sexual health covers a wide range of difficulties, and these women deserve and require the same amount of sexual health education and screenings as heterosexual women.

Pap Smears

Lesbian and bisexual women are more likely than heterosexual women to acquire certain gynecologic cancers, but they are also less likely to receive routine gynecological health care, such as pelvic exams and Pap tests. These checks and treatments are critical for lesbian and bisexual women to have on a regular basis since they are used to discover malignancies and other gynecological disorders early, when treatment success rates are highest.

HPV

Cervical, vulvar, vaginal, anal, and oral cancers can all be caused by HPV. While HPV is more common in women who have sex with men, the majority of lesbian women have had previous sexual interactions with males and can still transfer the virus through same-sex, skin-to-skin contact. As previously stated, the false belief that same-sex female relationships cannot spread STIs, combined with the fact that lesbian and bisexual women are less likely to receive regular gynecological screenings, means HPV may go undiagnosed and develop into a more life-threatening condition in lesbian and bisexual women.

Contraception

Lesbian and bisexual women had greater rates of teen pregnancy than heterosexual women, which may surprise some. Lesbian and bisexual women may still have sex with men and should be aware of the various methods of contraception available to them.

Fertility and Pregnancy

In same-sex relationships, many lesbian and bisexual women wish to have children. It's critical that they select a provider or center that knows their unique requirements and provides services to their family in a loving and sympathetic setting. Today, women in same-sex partnerships have a variety of choices for conceiving, including:

• Insemination of donors via intrauterine insemination (donor sperm are introduced to the uterus using a small tube)

• IVF (in vitro fertilization) (an egg is fertilized outside of the body using donor sperm and then placed in the uterus of a woman)

• Donation of eggs (one partner may donate her egg while the other partner carries the child)

• Donation of an embryo (a fertilized embryo may be donated to the couple)