5 Tips for Locating Accessible LGBTQ ObGyn Care
Staying on top of your health includes an annual visit to your doctor. As an individual reaches puberty, their reproductive health should be a part of that regimen regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. To talk about the best approach to selecting and talking with an ObGyn about your health, we spoke with Jessica Kiback, an APRN with Gynecology & Obstetrics, a practice of Women’s Health CT. Jessica has seven years of experience in nursing, five of which was spent in labor and delivery. She also has specialized focused on sexual health and LGBTQ healthcare. Here are five tips for finding an LGBTQ-friendly provider:
1. Look for community-friendly keywords
When you need to locate an ObGyn, or are feeling nervous about visiting your doctor, information can be powerful. For example, when you visit the Women’s Health Connecticut website, LGBTQ Care is listed under our services. A piece of information like this tells you that the providers represented by this organization welcome you and will provide you comfortable, judgment-free care. Having this experience herself Jessica mentioned, “as a bisexual woman, I have a unique perspective and have had the personal experience of dealing with stigma and discomfort around providers, so it influences how I approach my patients and the way the way I care for them.” Providers may also highlight a specific focus for LGBTQ healthcare in their biography, another positive indication. For Jessica, her ObGyn was one of the first people to know about her sexuality which highlights how important it is to our providers to build a trusting relationship and creating an environment that emphasizes placing your health first.
2. Make your first appointment a two-way conversation
Like any first meeting, your appointment may be a little awkward. It is not your job to educate your provider, but if you are comfortable with it, introducing yourself and your pronouns and asking your doctor for theirs can provide a good start to the conversation. Taking control of your narrative at the beginning of your appointment can quickly establish trust with a person that you will be able to confide in. You may also notice an option to include pronoun preference as a section on an intake form. From a patient perspective, Jessica included that, “some patients will really appreciate the opportunity to include their background information at the outset.” If you do not see a section to include this information, and you want to write it in, this will encourage the provider to take note.
3. Talk about sex – if you’re having it
Your sexual history can be a deeply personal topic to talk about with your doctor, but you should consider your ObGyn’s office a safe zone. Jessica’s take is that “sex is a part of life; everyone has it and it is totally normal. I ask every patient about their sex life, including if they’re currently sexually active, have been sexually active and who they're attracted to, men, women, both, or other.” This type of approach establishes a level of comfort with the patient, that no matter who they choose, she is okay with it. Remember that your doctor needs to understand how to guide you with any questions or concerns you have about birth control, family planning or issues you may be experiencing. You can also be screened for STD’s at your appointment and your sexual activity influences the type of tests that you should be screened for.
4. Ask for intimacy safety tips
If your doctor is asking you about contraceptives or protection, it’s because they want to be sure you are aware of your options. If you are not sure, it is always okay to ask. Practicing safe sex is in the best interest of your health and your provider wants to look out for you. Jessica emphasizes, “sex should be a comfortable conversation because I really want to keep my patients safe.” Your preferences may influence your providers' advice to you so that they can be sure you are as informed as possible. An example Jessica notes, “if you’re bisexual and sleeping with men and women, we would talk about contraception. If you’re a woman sleeping with women, you may not need contraception, but you might want to talk about protection.” Some of these conversations can also lead to other discussions related to your body or symptoms you are experiencing that allow your doctor to understand your body and your health needs.
5. Get to know your doctor and let them get to know you
Your ObGyn will see you through many phases in life, it is important to them to know not just about your health but who you are as a person. Jessica’s perspective as a provider is that she, “wants to know all the details about my patients, what they do for work, if they’re happy and that they feel safe. If they’re a member of the LGBTQ community, I care if their identity has caused any issues for them, if they have support and how can I help.” As a member of the community, she is very comfortable talking about her sexuality, which she has found, provides reassurance to her patients that she's on their side and her priority is to keep her patients safe. Her sentiments echo all of our providers by continuing, “I want my patients to be happy, if they are having issues, they can come in and talk to me about it without judgment. Once I get to know them, I want them to feel that we can build on our conversation with each visit.”
Your provider is one of the few individuals that you will establish a personal, long-term relationship with. The providers at Women’s Health CT are very proud of the many patients that have had the same ObGyn for decades and those that are making their health a priority and scheduling an appointment for the first time. We welcome all patients to our practices and are dedicated to providing quality care by devoting ourselves to your care and well-being.