While lesbian, bisexual, and straight women experience health issues from time to time, gay women are less privileged regarding health services access. Gay women are at a higher risk of getting heart disease due to obesity and smoking. Common health issues in lesbian and bisexual women are cancer, heart disease, depression, and anxiety. Here, we explain more health issues that each gay woman should watch out for.
Health Issues Affecting Lesbian and Bisexual Women
Lesbian and bisexual women are more likely to get cancer and not access screening services. This means that they are not diagnosed early enough when the disease is in early treatable diseases. Each lesbian and bisexual woman should ensure that they are screened from time to time and talk to their health providers if they suspect anything wrong with their breasts.
Heart disease is the leading killer of women. Heart disease in lesbian and bisexual women is mainly caused by obesity and smoking. To lower the risk of getting heart disease, one should get regular blood pressure screening, high cholesterol screening, and diabetes check-ups. In case you are at risk, your health care provider will share some tips to quit smoking, exercising more, and how to control your weight.
Gay women experience discrimination which may cause mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety. Especially for gay women who are afraid to come out, mental health becomes part of their daily struggles. However, with good health care and family support, the victim may overcome this challenge and lead a happy, healthy life.
Bisexual Women Health Issues – Gynecological Cancer
Just as with breast cancer, lesbians and bisexual women are at a greater risk of numerous gynecological cancer. Regular pelvic and Pap tests are required to detect this cancer when in the early stages. Remember, early detection of cancer means better chances of treatment and healing.
Intimate Partner Violence
Though most people do not associate same-sex relationships with intimate partner violence, statistics show otherwise. According to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 43.8% of lesbians have been raped by their intimate partners compared to 35% of heterosexual women. 61.1% of bisexual women have also been raped, suffered physical violence, and stalking by intimate partners.
These statics indicate that intimate partner violence is a major concern for bisexual women and lesbians. Unfortunately, victims do not get adequate help from support providers due to a lack of proper training and discrimination. If you experience any kind of violence from your intimate partner, ensure that you report to the authorities who are LGBTQ+ friendly and get treated if you sustain any injuries.
Due to higher alcohol intake among the gay community than heterosexual women, lesbians and bisexual women are likely to develop alcohol-related issues such as alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Unlike heterosexual women, gay women are more likely to engage in high rates of smoking, marijuana, and cocaine abuse.
Higher rates of these substances may lead to heart disease and lung cancer, which are the leading causes of women’s deaths. The cause of substance abuse may be linked to discrimination, rejection, stress, and homophobia. Again, support and love for these individuals and proper health care can minimize the chances of substance abuse.
Lesbian and bisexual women are more likely to suffer from obesity than other individuals. Obesity is a serious health issue that may lead to cancer and heart problems, which may cause the victim’s death. Proper diet and regular exercise may reduce the chances of obesity. However, before planning your exercise routine, you should first talk with your health care provider so that they can advise you on the way forward.
Due to heteronormativity, most health care providers assume that every woman who decides to seek help concerning their sexual health is heterosexual. It is also assumed that women who love women never have and will never be in a romantic relationship with men.
Due to these beliefs, lesbian and bisexual women are not educated well regarding sexual health, nor do they receive health services regarding the same compared to heterosexual women. Health care providers are also required not to assume people’s identities and are advised to listen to their patients and provide them with the best care.
Lesbian and bisexual women are also believed to experience lower chances of sexually transmitted diseases (STIs). However, this is far from the truth. They are also at risk of getting STIs, just like heterosexual women. They can acquire these diseases through skin-to-skin contact, vaginal fluids, mucous membrane contact, and menstrual blood. Ask your doctor when and how often you should have STI screening. Under sexual health, lesbian and bisexual women need to be educated about:
As unbelievable as it may sound, lesbian and bisexual teens are most affected by teen pregnancy compared to heterosexual women. This is because lesbian and bisexual women may still have sexual intercourse with men hence the need to understand more about contraception to avoid early unwanted pregnancies.
Pregnancy and Fertility
Most lesbian and bisexual women aspire to have their own children. They require an LGBTQ+ friendly center that can understand and cater to their needs. Luckily, there are numerous ways available for women in same-sex relationships to get pregnant that may include:
- In vitro fertilization ( This is an egg that is fertilized outside the body using donor sperm then implanted in the woman’s uterus)
- Egg donor (Either partner may donate an egg while the other carries the baby)
- Donor insemination through intrauterine insemination
- Embryo donation (a fertilized embryo donated to the couple)
Lesbian and bisexual women use tobacco more than heterosexual women. This puts them at risk of developing cancer, heart disease, and emphysema. The abuse of tobacco is linked to depression, anxiety, loneliness, among other circumstances. It’s advisable to seek help before this behavior becomes fatal.
Lesbian and Bisexual Women Health Issues – Bottom Line
Regarding the information above, lesbian and bisexual women require health care services without any discrimination or prejudice since they are likely to engage in life-threatening habits. These habits might develop due to fear of discrimination and the stigma they experience in health facilities.