Navigating Health for Lesbian and Bisexual Women

Due to heteronormative norms, lesbian and bisexual women are often invisible in hospital settings. Opportunities for targeted opportunistic health education are often missed because lesbian and bisexual women are hesitant to come out to providers. When it comes to medical care, lesbian and bisexual women have unique requirements compared to their heterosexual and homosexual counterparts.

The following are some of the most prevalent health issues experienced by lesbian and bisexual women, according to research. Although not every lesbian or bisexual woman may experience these issues, it is crucial that they and their doctors be aware of the ones that do. Let us learn more.

Breast Exams

 woman doctor talking with her patient on breast examination

However, lesbian and bisexual women are less likely to get routine cancer tests like mammograms, which can detect the disease in its early stages and save lives, than heterosexual women. This is a major issue because early diagnosis is crucial to effective therapy and boosts the woman's probability of remission.

Intimate Partner Violence

Statistics reveal that lesbian and bisexual women are far more likely to experience intimate partner violence than women in heterosexual relationships. Compared to 35% of heterosexual women, 43.8 % of lesbian women and 61.1 % of bisexual women have suffered rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Access issues to shelters, shelter prejudice, and a lack of training for assistance workers all exacerbate the problem.

Substance Use Disorder

Lesbian and bisexual women consume more alcohol and experience more alcohol-related difficulties than their straight counterparts. Studies have found that lesbian and bisexual women are more likely to use illicit drugs like cocaine and marijuana than their heterosexual counterparts. The three leading causes of death for womencancer, heart disease, and lung diseaseare all associated with the use of these medications.

Rates of substance use disorder may be linked to stress caused by prejudice, homophobia, and sexism, similar to some of the other mental health concerns found among lesbian and bisexual women.


Obese lesbian woman

There is a correlation between being lesbian or bisexual and being overweight. Among the major causes of death for women are obesity-related illnesses like heart disease and cancer.

Obesity risk can be reduced via regular exercise and a good diet, but women should always consult their doctors before beginning any new exercise or diet program.

Sexual Wellness

Some medical professionals may mistakenly believe lesbian and bisexual women are heterosexual when addressing their sexual health out of adherence to heteronormativity. A woman in a same-sex relationship may be seen as someone who has never or will never have sexual intercourse with a man. Lesbian and bisexual women need to be open and honest with their providers about their identity, whether or not their provider asks, to ensure they receive the adequate, comprehensive care they require in light of these and other stereotypes. This is especially important when talking about your sexual habits, partners, and activities.

Because of the misconception that fewer STIs affect women who date within their own sex group, some doctors may fail to address the health issues of lesbian and bisexual patients. However, there are many aspects to lesbian and bisexual women's sexual health, and these women should have access to the same information and screenings on sexual health as their heterosexual counterparts.

Pap Tests

Some forms of gynecologic cancer are more common in lesbian and bisexual women, and yet they are less likely to have routine screenings like Pap tests and pelvic exams. Lesbian and bisexual women should prioritize regular gynecological exams and procedures because of the critical role they play in the early detection of cancer and other gynecological problems.


Cancers of the cervix, vulvar, vagina, anus, and mouth can all originate from HPV. Most women who identify as lesbians have had sexual relationships with men in the past, and they can still transmit HPV through skin-to-skin contact with other women of the same sex. 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, increases the risk that HPV will go undiagnosed and progress to a more life-threatening condition in lesbian and bisexual women.


Contrary to popular belief, lesbian and bisexual women actually have a higher teen pregnancy rate than their heterosexual counterparts. Women who identify as lesbian or bisexual may also continue to have sexual relations with men, and it is important for them to be knowledgeable about the many methods of birth control.

Fertility and Pregnancy

 pregnant lesbian woman

Many same-sex couples' ultimate goal is to start a family, which includes many lesbian and bisexual women. They should look for a center or provider that caters to their unique need and treats their family with the utmost respect and sensitivity. Women in same-sex partnerships have a lot of modern reproductive choices, such as

  • Donor insemination by intrauterine insemination (in which donor sperm is inserted into the uterus via a thin catheter).
  • Fertilization of an egg in a petri dish with sperm from a donor, followed by implantation of the resulting embryo in the woman's uterus.
  • Donating an egg (when one partner bears the kid) is a common method of assisted reproduction.
  • Donating an embryo (a fertilized egg) to a couple.

You may also likeComplete Care for Gay and Bisexual Men: Health from Every Angle


Lesbian and bisexual women have unique health concerns, including mental health, substance use, and sexual health. It is important for lesbian and bisexual women to have access to quality health care that is inclusive and affirming. Lastly, it is essential for lesbian and bisexual women to be aware of their unique health risks and to seek out quality health care that is inclusive and affirming.

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