Sexual orientation is the part of sexuality that relates to attraction, feelings and sexual self-concept. Sexual behavior does not always follow sexual orientation. Society and culture has a significant influence on what people perceive as “acceptable” sexual behavior. This may inhibit or encourage certain sexual expression.
Ideally, sexual orientation and behavior support an individual’s sexual identity in a positive healthy way. There are three common sexual orientations:
- homosexual – attracted to same gender
- heterosexual – attracted to the opposite gender
- bisexual – attracted to either gender
Depending on your comfort level, it’s valuable to maintain an open dialogue with your healthcare provider about your sexual orientation. It will help your provider make sure you get the best, most focused care.
Lesbian and Bi-Sexual Health
While all women experience many of the same health issues and different stages of life, research tells us that lesbian and bisexual women are at higher risk for certain health conditions, specifically:
Lesbian and bisexual have a higher rate of obesity, smoking and stress, which further increases a women’s risk for heart disease.
Lesbians and bisexual women are more likely to smoke than heterosexual women; this further increases the risk of lung cancer.
Lesbian and bisexual women are less likely to go for routine screenings for cervical cancer; the most common virus that causes cervical cancer is sexually transmitted.
Lesbian and bisexual women are less likely than other women to go for routine mammograms and clinical breast exams.
Delays in routine health care, in many cases lowers, the chance of finding cervical and breast cancer early enough for treatments to be effective.
Lesbians are at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STI) such as bacterial vaginosis, genital herpes, human papillomavirus, Trichomoniasis and Chlamydia. Transmission occurs from skin, oral sex, vaginal and menstrual fluids and sharing sex toys.
Lesbians have a higher rate of a common hormonal problem, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). This condition can impact regular periods, fertility, normal hormone balance, physical appearance, the body’s production of insulin, the heart and blood vessels.
Lesbian and bisexual women report higher rates of depression and anxiety.
Care for lesbian and bisexual health
- Have annual office visits with your OB/GYN provider
- Get a pap smear and HPV test
- Get tested for STI before starting a sexual relationship
- Drink alcohol moderately
- Reduce your chance of stroke and diabetes by keeping your weight down, your blood pressure in check, and not smoking