Lesbian, Bisexual Women and Gynecologic Cancer
Lesbian and Bisexual women are at greater risk for developing gynecologic cancer than the general population of women.
- Lesbian women likely do not take contraception (i.e., birth control pills) and may be less likely to bear children. Use of birth control and having children lower the risk of developing some forms of gynecologic cancer.
- Obesity is another leading risk factor for ovarian cancer. Maintaining a healthy body weight is important for all women.
- Lack of health insurance and additional barriers can influence lesbians to ignore routine health check-ups because there is less need for contraception and, according to studies, lesbians visit their gynecologist less frequently.
Barriers to medical care for lesbians and bisexual women
Studies have found that lesbians and bisexual women get less routine health care than other women, including colon, breast, and cervical cancer screening tests.
Some of the reasons for this include:
- Low rates of health insurance: Many health insurance policies don’t cover unmarried partners. This may make it more difficult for many lesbians and bisexual women to get quality health care.
- Fear of discrimination: Many women don’t tell their health care providers about their sexual orientation, because they don’t want discrimination to affect the quality of health care they receive. This can make it harder to have a comfortable relationship with a provider.
- Negative experiences with health care providers: Fear of having a negative experience with a health care provider can lead some women to delay or avoid medical care, especially routine care such as early detection tests or reporting recurring symptoms to their doctor. Missing routine appointments and cancer screening tests can lead to cancer being diagnosed at a later stage, when it’s often harder to treat.
There are many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender/transsexual (LGBT)-friendly providers. An LGBT community center or group may be able to refer you to one of these providers. Don’t give up – find the respectful care you deserve!
Other information and resources:
The following websites provide good information with regard to gynecologic cancer and the lesbian and bisexual community: